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'Huge explosions' rock Maiduguri, NE Nigeria

14 October 2015, 12:00

Maiduguri - Three blasts hit the city of Maiduguri in northeast Nigeria on Tuesday killing a number of people, locals and the Red Cross said.

The "huge explosions" happened in the Ajilari Cross area of the city, which has been targeted by similar attacks twice in the last month, including on September 20 when at least 117 were killed.

The previous attacks were blamed on Boko Haram, which has increasingly hit "soft" civilian targets in recent months using suicide bombers and improvised explosive devices.

It was not immediately clear what caused the latest blasts, which happened in quick succession from 20:10, said Bashir Mohammed, whose house is near the scene.

"We are all confused and people are running helter-skelter," he said.

Sheriff Ahmad, a cleric in the area, said: "Many people have been killed. I don't know how many and I don't think anyone can tell you now."

More protection for civilians

Ahmad described seeing body parts on his house, while Hafsat Sani, a nurse at the nearby Umaru Shehu Hospital, said: "There are many houses around the area and the blasts have affected many of them."

The hospital quickly began receiving the injured while police, soldiers, the Red Cross and officials from Nigeria's National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) were mobilised, he said.

A Red Cross official said: "Obviously there are people that died but I don't have figures."

There was no immediate comment from the police or military while details were sketchy as Maiduguri is subject to a night-time curfew.

On October 1, at least 10 people were killed and 39 injured when four suicide bombers blew themselves up in a wave of attacks in Ajilari Cross, which is near Maidugiri airport and a military base.

At least two bombs were strapped to teenage girls, witnesses and the police said at the time.

The September 20 attack targeted a mosque and killed football fans watching a televised match as well as bystanders.

Amnesty International said last month that the Boko Haram conflict had killed at least 1 600 people since the start of June in Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Cameroon and called for more protection for civilians.

An AFP tally puts the death toll at more than 1 320 in Nigeria alone since Muhammadu Buhari became president on May 29.



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