Nigerian Bombings Ahead of Eid Festival Kill at Least 63 People

Three suicide attacks attributed to underage girls occurred in the town of Damaturu less than a day after a pair of explosions killed at least 50 people in the city of Gombe.

by VICE News
Jul 17 2015, 6:05pm

Photo by Sunday Alamba/AP

Dozens of people are dead after a series of bombings struck northeastern Nigeria ahead of Muslim Eid al-Fitr celebrations marking the conclusion of the holy month of Ramadan.

Three suicide attacks occurred early on Friday as people in the town of Damaturu prepared for the Eid festival.

"Thirteen people were killed in the suicide blasts," reported Markus Danladi, Yobe state police commissioner. "The attacks were carried out by three underage girls. Fifteen people were also injured in the attacks."

Though the authorities attributed the three attacks to young girls, early press reports suggested that an elderly woman had participated in the assault. 

Two of the explosions took place at about 7:40 AM at outdoor prayer grounds where worshipers had lined up outside of a security checkpoint. The third bombing occurred soon after at a nearby mosque.

The series of bombings came less than a day after a pair of explosions killed at least 50 people on Thursday at a market in the city of Gombe where residents were buying food for the upcoming holiday. An estimated 75 people were injured.

No one has yet officially claimed responsibility for this week's attacks, but the homegrown radical Islamist insurgency Boko Haram, which has pledged loyalty to the so-called Islamic State (IS), has carried out repeated attacks in Gombe over the years and has lately focused on violent attacks in the region, killing hundreds. It is also said to be using abducted Nigerian girls as suicide bombers.

The trend of Ramadan attacks in Nigeria falls in line with recent calls from IS to spark mayhem during the holiday period.

On Friday, just as the three attacks in Damaturu were taking place, Nigeria's newly appointed army chief Maj. Gen. Tukur Buratai paid a visit to troops in the area to raise morale.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, who took office in May, reshuffled the country's military leadership earlier this week, dismissing Nigeria's army, air force, navy, and defense chiefs — members of the top brass that had overseen Nigeria's bungled response to Boko Haram. Buratai was appointed to his position after the dismissals.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.