MAIDUGURI, NIGERIA: Two female suicide bombers killed at least 35 people at a camp for those made homeless by Boko Haram’s extremist insurgency in northeast Nigeria, a state official said on Wednesday, in the latest violence to hit the region.
The chairman of the Borno State Emergency Management Agency, Satomi Ahmed, said the bombers struck at the Dikwa camp, some 90 kilometres (55 miles) west of the state capital, Maiduguri, on Tuesday morning.
The attack, believed to be a reprisal for a military strike on Boko Haram strongholds in the area last week, will again raise security fears not just about the safety of internally displaced people (IDPs).
But it will also put pressure on the military and the government in Abuja, which maintains it has the upper hand against the insurgents and is pushing a policy of returning civilians caught up in the violence.
“We recovered 35 dead bodies and 78 injured following the attack on Dikwa IDP (camp) on Tuesday morning,” Ahmed told AFP.
“From what we gathered three female suicide bombers disguised as IDPs arrived at IDP camp at about 6:30 am (0530 GMT).
“Two of them detonated their explosives. The third one refused to set off hers when she realised her parents and siblings were in the camp. She surrendered herself to the authorities.”
Ahmed said the woman told the military why she refused to detonate her explosives and warned them of further attacks to come in the remote region.
The injured have been taken to the Borno State Specialist Hospital and the Umaru Shehu Hospital, both in Maiduguri for treatment, he added.
The camp in Dikwa is currently home to people from six local government areas in Borno: Dikwa itself, Gamboru Ngala, on the border with Cameroon, and the towns of Marte, Kalabalge, Bama and Mafa.
Last week, the Nigerian military attacked three villages considered Boko Haram strongholds near Kalabalge, killing dozens of militant fighters and rescuing hundreds of women.
The women were largely from the Shuwa Arab tribe, who had been kidnapped, prompting the authorities to suspect the latest attack to be in revenge for the military operation.
Boko Haram, which has increasingly used suicide and bomb attacks as the military pushes them out of territories it once controlled, has hit IDP camps before.
On September 11 last year, seven people were killed when an improvised explosive device went off at the Malkohi camp, near Yola, in neighbouring Adamawa state.
The camp has been used to house kidnapped women and children rescued by the military.
On January 31, at least 85 people were killed in Dalori, some 12 kilometres from Maiduguri, when Boko Haram fighters attacked and burned down surrounding villagers.
Suicide bombers tried to get into the IDP camp, which is the largest around Maiduguri, but were prevented.
The Boko Haram insurgency has left at least 17,000 people dead and forced more than 2.6 million from their homes in nearly seven years of violence that has also spread to neighbouring countries.
At least six civilians were killed and more than 30 injured on Wednesday in a double suicide attack in the village of Nguetchewe, in northern Cameroon