KANO (AFP) – A bomb blast targeting an army patrol shook an area of the restive Nigerian city of Maiduguri on Monday, wounding two soldiers, the military said, while residents reported seeing six dead bodies.
Residents in the northeastern city also alleged soldiers beat people in the neighbourhood after the explosion, but the army denied the accusations.
A bomb planted on a road in Maiduguri, the home base of Islamist extremist group Boko Haram, exploded when a military patrol van drove over it, said Lieutenant Colonel Sagir Musa.
“There was a bomb blast involving a JTF vehicle at about 7:15 am today along Lagos street in Maiduguri metropolis. Two soldiers sustained injury,” said Musa in a statement, referring to a military joint task force.
Two residents in the area claimed to have seen six dead soldiers being evacuated in a military van.
Residents said soldiers deployed in the area shortly after the explosion and indiscriminately attacked residents with horse whips and gun butts, forcing traders to lower their shutters.
“The Gamboru and Monday markets in the area are closed because soldiers came into the area and began molesting people, hitting them with gun butts and horse whips after the explosion,” said a resident speaking on condition of anonymity.
The army denied the accusation.
Nigerian soldiers have often been accused of such abuses following bomb blasts in the country’s northeast.
Boko Haram Islamists have killed scores of security personnel in bomb and shooting attacks since 2010, when it resumed its deadly insurgency after a 2009 uprising was crushed in a brutal military crackdown.
It is blamed for more than 1,400 deaths in northern and central Nigeria since 2010.