By Ndahi Marama, with agency reports
MAIDUGURI — Over 20 people were killed at Kasuwar Jagwal GSM market in the commercial capital of Potiskum, Yobe State, yesterday, when two female suicide bombers, one of them aged about 15, blew themselves up in the crowded market.
The blasts came just a day after a young girl thought to be aged about 10 killed 19 at a Chicken Market in Maiduguri, in the neighbouring Borno State.
Potiskum is in the west and about 100 kilometres from Damaturu, the Yobe State capital, that witnessed series of bomb blasts including the suicide bomber that hit a police formation weekend.
Residents said the suicide bombers invaded the crowded market at about 3pm and detonated their Improvised Explosive Devices, IEDs.
A resident of Potiskum, Mallam Aliyu Usman, told Vanguard on phone, yesterday, that the death toll could rise as most of those who sustained injuries had lost much blood due to bleeding before security operatives could reach the scene.
Unconfirmed sources said over 20 people were killed, adding that their mangled bodies were seen at the scene of the blast.
Earlier on Saturday, two people were killed when a car exploded outside a police station in Potiskum.
“We evacuated six bodies including those of the two female suicide bombers to the hospital, 21 people were injured in the attacks.
A security source involved in the rescue operation told AFP of Sunday’s bombings: “One of the bombers looked 23 and the other 15.
“The first bomber — the 23 year-old — detonated her explosives just outside the entrance of the market, where volunteers were screening people going inside the market with metal detectors.
“The second bomber was terrified by the explosion and she tried to dash across the road but she also exploded.”
Both the security official and a nurse at the Potiskum General Hospital said six people were confirmed dead and 21 injured.
Witness Ibrahim Dambam said the second blast went off as people fled the first.
Sunday is Potiskum’s market day and attracts traders and shoppers from all over Yobe State and beyond.
Panicked shoppers fled and traders abandoned their stalls at both the mobile phone market and the city’s main market, which is just next door.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the latest attacks but suspicion is likely to fall on Boko Haram, which have increasingly used female suicide bombers since last June.
Some security analysts believe that older women may willingly become human bombs as they share the Islamists’ radical ideology or are out to avenge the death of loved ones at the hands of the military.
But the young ages of some of the bombers — such as the girl in Maiduguri — and the actions of the 15-year-old in Potiskum suggest that coercion is being used.
A civilian vigilante who witnessed the Maiduguri bombing said of the young bomber: “I doubt if she actually knew what was strapped to her body.”
Another eye-witness said it appeared that the bomb was remote-controlled, which chimes with testimony from other attacks across the wider north of Nigeria.