Suicide bomber kills 16 in Boko Haram attack

The explosion site
The explosion site

A female suicide bomber and Boko Haram gunmen killed 16 people in Nigeria as the commander of a new multinational force tasked with fighting the Islamists pledged on Friday to crush the insurgency “very soon”.

Major General Iliya Abbah’s appointment in an Abuja ceremony as chief of the 8,700-strong force came as a woman bomber on a tricycle killed six people in a busy market in Maiduguri, the largest city in Nigeria’s restive northeastern Borno state.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, who won the election in March this year on a promise to defeat the jihadists, said Friday the new task force would “lead to the speedy defeat and elimination of Boko Haram”, according to a statement.

Meanwhile, reports emerged that the jihadists had struck neighbouring Yobe state, killing at least 10 people including two women on Wednesday evening in a revenge attack against local vigilantes, a local official told AFP on Friday.

The suicide attack in Maiduguri was the latest in a wave of Boko Haram bombings — often by female bombers — targeting markets in Nigeria, Chad and Cameroon that have killed and wounded scores in the past month. “The attack (on the Gamboru) market happened around 6:30 am as the grocers were arriving,” Babakura Kolo, a vigilante in Maiduguri, told AFP.

“From accounts we gathered from people around, the woman arrived on a taxi tricycle, as every woman grocer does. She blew herself up as soon as the tricycle stopped in the midst of other tricycles dropping traders off,” Kolo said.

Another local resident was at home when he heard the blast, and he rushed to the scene immediately afterwards.

“The place was littered with victims and burning rickshaws,” he told AFP.

Gamboru market is the second largest in Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state and birthplace of Boko Haram, which has killed at least 15 000 people since its bloody insurgency began in 2009. The new multinational force, whose troops Abbah said would be deployed “any time from today”, is expected to be more efficient than the regional offensive launched in February.

The force will contain troops from Nigeria, Cameroon, Niger and Chad, with Benin also committed to help.

However, Buhari has recently complained of a lack of resources, raising concerns over the force’s chances of defeating Boko Haram once and for all.

Cameroon on Thursday deported more than 2,000 Nigerians living illegally in its far north as part of new measures intended to prevent the group’s attacks, sources said — although local NGO worker Mey Aly said most of the deportees had fled the jihadists’ atrocities to take refuge in Cameroon. The Chadian army has gone ahead and waged its own vast offensive in the past fortnight, targeting Islamists holed up around Lake Chad and claiming to have killed “117 terrorists”.

Two soldiers have died and two were injured, a military spokesman said.

Boko Haram has used the Lake Chad region as a hideout to fall back from offensives by Nigerian and Chadian troops inside Nigeria. The lake lies where the borders of Cameroon, Chad and Nigeria converge. — AFP.

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