Monday, two bomb blasts detonated by female suicide bombers went off at the Baga fish market in Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state, Nigeria. According to reports, the first bomber appeared to wait until sellers at the market began their late afternoon Muslim prayers before the teenager detonated her device. At least 30 people were killed in the first explosion with many others injured. A separate report claimed that the first bomber, thought to be in her early 20s with her explosives hidden under her veil, first attempted to attack a mosque outside the market but was unable to reach her target. She instead opted to detonate near a temporary prayer area in the market itself.
The second bomber killed no one but herself. According to witnesses, she was seen running from the first blast while screaming before she exploded “some 500 meters away.” One report speculated that many others would have died if she had reached her target, further noting that a nearby crowded bus stop was close by.
No one has claimed responsibility for the attacks but Boko Haram is suspected. The Baga market in Maiduguri has been a popular target for the terrorist group over the last six years. Hundreds of people have been reportedly killed in over 20 attacks at the location.
Thought of as the birthplace of Boko Haram, the group has failed to gain control of the state capital even as it gained control over vast portions of northeastern Nigeria last year. In recent months, the group is suspected of several bombings in the city, however. In its recently released Country Reports on Terrorism, the United States Department of State noted that 2014 was Boko Haram’s “deadliest year,” and the group was responsible for creating over 5,000 casualties.
On Sunday, another female suicide bomber detonated a device at a bus station in Maiduguri, killing at least 20 people. The bomber reportedly entered the station carrying a casserole dish and calling for customers when the seemingly explosives-laden dish exploded. Since Boko Haram has been pushed back on its heels by the military coalition of Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Cameroon, the group has gone back to hitting soft targets, particularly in Maiduguri.
At the beginning of the month, the Nigerian military began moving its headquarters to Maiduguri to strengthen its operations and responsiveness to Boko Haram in the area. The move was announced by newly sworn-in President Muhammadu Buhari during his inaugural address on May 29.
Boko Haram also reportedly attacked the small village of Debiro in Hawul Local Government area in a remote section of southwest Borno State on Monday. The terrorists stormed the village with motorcycles and pick-up trucks, indiscriminately shooting at villagers and setting fire to buildings. At least 20 residents were killed.