Deadly Bombings Reported In Nigerian City Where Boko Haram Was Founded- NY Times
At least three bombings attributed to Boko Haram extremists have killed scores of people in Nigeria’s northeastern city of Maiduguri, Nigerian news media reported on Monday.
Reports said the bombs all detonated within minutes of each other on Sunday evening, including one planted in a mosque. At least one other blew up in an area where people gather to watch soccer games, according to accounts on Nigerian news sites.
The accounts quoted Sani Usman, a spokesman for the Nigerian Army, as saying that the attacks signaled a “high level of desperation on the part of the Boko Haram terrorists.”
An estimated 54 people were killed and at least 90 wounded, the accounts quoted emergency officials as saying. If confirmed, the bombings would amount to one of the deadliest attacks by Boko Haram against civilians in months.
Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State, is the epicenter of a protracted insurgency by Boko Haram, which was founded in that city more than a decade ago.
Marauding, kidnapping and pillaging by Boko Haram fighters has uprooted entire villages in Nigeria and more recently in neighboring Chad, Niger and Cameroon. Last week Unicef said the displaced population included at least 1.4 million children.
Amnesty International has estimated that Boko Haram violence has left at least 17,000 people dead since 2009, when the insurgency began.
Boko Haram and regional leaders have been engaged in intensifying propaganda exchanges over the group’s strength.
Nigeria’s new president, Muhammadu Buhari, asserted recently that military forces had gained the advantage against Boko Haram, recaptured territory and fractured its leadership. Last month Chad’s president, Idriss Déby, said Boko Haram’s leader, Abubakar Shekau, had been replaced, and Mr. Déby predicted the group would be vanquished by year’s end.
Over the weekend, an audio message said to have been recorded by Mr. Shekau sought to refute the assertions. “They are actually the ones whom we have driven away,” the voice said. “They are all liars.”
The authenticity of the message, distributed by jihadist websites, could not be verified.