Dual bomb blasts rock Nigeria

  • 17/07/2015

At least 49 people have been killed and dozens injured after twin blasts struck a market in the northeast Nigerian city of Gombe.

The first explosion took place outside a packed footwear shop on Thursday afternoon (local time), followed by a second explosion just minutes later, a local trader Badamasi Amin said.

He said the area at the time was crowded with customers doing last-minute shopping on the eve of the Eid festival, which marks the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

"I was about 70 metres from the scene [of the first blast]," Amin told AFP.

"I and many other people rushed to assist the victims. While we were trying to attend to the wounded, another blast happened outside a china shop just opposite the footwear shop."

Amin said he was "drenched in blood" from moving dead bodies.

Ali Nasiru, another trader, said he saw "people lying lifeless on the ground".

"Traders and shoppers helped in evacuating the victims to the hospital," he said.

A senior rescue official said 49 had been killed and 71 injured in the attacks, but the toll could climb further as some of the wounded "are in a critical condition".

"The victims include many women and children," he said.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blasts but a market, bus station and stadium in the city of Gombe, the capital of Gombe state, have in recent months been targeted by bomb and suicide attacks.

In February, Boko Haram Islamists claimed responsibility for an attack on Gombe during which hundreds of insurgents, armed with heavy weapons, invaded the city for a few hours.

Gombe state neighbours the states of Borno, Yobo and Adamawa, which have been most affected by the Boko Haram insurgency that has killed more than 15,000 people in Nigeria since 2009.

There has been a spike in attacks by Boko Haram after a four-nation coalition of Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Cameroon pushed out the militants from captured territory earlier this year.

The violence has intensified since Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari took power one-and-a-half months ago and vowed to crush the group, something his predecessor had also made a priority but failed to do.

Buhari, in an Eid message, pledged to press on with efforts to quash the militants.

Buhari, a former military man, this week sacked his entire defence top brass in the wake of criticism over the military command's poor handling of the six-year Boko Haram insurgency.