, MAIDUGURI, Nigeria, Dec 1 – Two explosions ripped through a market in the Nigerian city of Maiduguri on Monday, witnesses said, nearly a week after two female suicide bombers attacked the same area, killing more than 45 people.
“A middle-aged woman approached the site where chicken sellers attend to customers but vigilantes who stood nearby insisted on checking the luggage she was carrying,” said witness Ahmad Sanusi.
“The woman refused, arguing that what she held were her wares. While the argument ensued, some people gathered at the scene and that was when she detonated the explosive,” he told AFP.
The Monday Market was hit last Tuesday by two women who detonated explosives hidden under their hijabs. The same market was attacked on July 1 and at least 15 people died.
A police bomb squad on Friday defused a suspected remote-controlled improvised explosive device buried in the dirt near another market in Maiduguri.
Boko Haram militants were suspected and it was thought the bomb was intended to hit worshippers at a local mosque. Two suspected female suicide bombers were arrested in Maiduguri last week.
It was not immediately clear whether the woman in Monday’s incident was a suicide bomber or if she was merely carrying explosives hidden in her luggage.
But another witness, Goni Abba, reported a second explosion just seconds after the first. Nearby buildings were destroyed and there were reports of deaths and injuries, he added.
There was no immediate official confirmation of fatalities but the police, army and Red Cross were at the scene.
Another local resident who was in the area at the time said: “I was at the Borno state television station, which is just opposite the Monday Market, to see a friend.
“I heard an explosion and we were told that it happened at the market. I’m now in his office because it’s not safe to venture outside,” said the resident, who asked not to be identified.
The blasts happened as Boko Haram fighters launched a dawn raid on the capital of neighbouring Yobe state, Damaturu, apparently targeting the police.