Tuesday, July 1, 2014 12:46 pm
MAIDUGURI – A huge explosion in the northeastern Nigerian city of Maiduguri on Tuesday killed at least 15 people, an AFP photographer said, in the latest blast to hit the city repeatedly attacked by Boko Haram Islamists.
The attack is one of several bombarding of states in the nation’s northern region by insurgents, who some religious leaders have disowned, saying they cannot be practising the tenets of Islam, even as Muslims around the World observe the holy season of Ramadan.
After the explosion in a truck carrying charcoal at the city’s biggest roundabout during morning rush hour, victims were taken to the State Specialist Hospital, where the photographer saw the bodies of 15 people killed in the blast, while witnesses said the toll could be much higher.
The Defence Headquarters announcing the event this morning said on its twitter account: “A van loaded with charcoal and IED exploded at Monday Market in Maiduguri this morning. The location has been cordoned.”
Only yesterday Monday, more than 50 people were killed following attacks on churches in the northern region, blamed on Boko Haram, overshadowing festivities ahead Nigerias last-16 World Cup match against France.
“Gunmen stormed Sunday services in four villages near Chibok in Borno state, where Boko Haram kidnapped more than 200 schoolgirls on April 14.
They hurled explosives into churches, torched buildings and fired on worshippers as they tried to flee, residents said, “So far we have 54 dead,” said a Borno state official, who requested anonymity as he was not authorised to discuss casualties with the media.
“Federal government spokesman Mike Omeri and coordinator of the National Information Centre, confirmed that “a number of people were killed” but said he had not yet received an official casualty report from the local government and could not discuss.
Locals have accused the military of ignoring distress calls made after the attack began, leaving them defenceless during the attack, but Omeri said: “I was… reliably informed that the military and the airforce were there. Maybe a little late, but they made it there.”
Meanwhile, the Federal Government on Monday, had said it had enough equipment to fight and curtail the activities of Boko Haram.
Mr Omeri, addressing a news conference in Abuja, said contrary to insinuation in some quarters that insurgency elements had more sophisticated weapons compared to the military, the military were more equipped and well trained to curtail the activities of insurgents.
He said the recent incessant attacks by the terrorist group suggested that their days were coming to an end, and that this accounts for their desperation, and that “The Federal Government is doing everything to protect all citizens across the country.”
On his part, President Good luck Jonathan “said the attacks provided “conclusive proof” that Boko Haram was using religion as a cover for their “reprehensible crimes against their countrymen and women”.
Deploring “the renewed targeting by Boko Haram of adherents of a particular religion”, the President urged lovers of peace and unity to wholly condemn the resurgence of efforts by agents of global terrorism to disunite and destabilise” the country.
After the April abductions of over 200 female students in the village of Chibok, residents accused the security forces of doing almost nothing to secure the girls’ release, despite military claims that a massive manhunt had been launched.
“The villages targeted on Sunday — Kwada, Ngurojina, Karagau and Kautikari — are all within 10 kilometres (six miles) of Chibok.
Church attacks have been a prominent feature of the insurgency, which Boko Haram claims is aimed at creating an Islamic state in Nigeria’s northern region.
The United States, Britain, France and Israel have joined the rescue operation to find Nigeria
On Friday, visited the site of the deadly explosion in the nation’s capital, after cutting short an African Union engagement to meet victims of an attack on a shopping mall which killed at least 22 people and many others injured.
President Jonathan briefing newsmen at the scene of the incident said, the spate of attacks in the country was “regrettable,” but assured that the country “will get over