A series of attacks involving female suicide bombers have left over 50 people dead and about 114 wounded in Nigeria. Officials say that three young female suicide bombers detonated explosives; two of them together at a market in Madagali on Monday morning another one exploded in Maiduguri, Borno State. The attacks are being blamed on militant group Boko Haram. These acts of terror came less than a week after President Muhammadu Buhari declared that the war against the militants had been “technically won.”
No claim of responsibility yet
While there was no claim of responsibility for the attacks, the blasts had the signature of the Boko Haram. The extremist group has been waging a six-year insurgency in northeast Nigeria to create an Islamic state, killing about 17,000 and displacing over 1.5 million. Boko Haram was recently named the deadliest terror organization in the world. An attack occured on Monday at a mosque in a Maiduguri suburb – the army had exchanged fire on Sunday with suspected terrorist fighters that attempted to sneak into the town to carry out suicide bombings. Around 20 were killed and 91 wounded from both attacks.
“We all fled yesterday as our houses were on fire. This morning we came back, and while we were counting the people who had burned in the houses, another bomb exploded,” resident Ibrahim Goni said.
Army commander Lamidi Adeoshun told reporters there was a second attack, but there were no details immediately available. The following day, in the south of Borno, in Madagali, two female suicide bombers carried out their attack at the crowded meat and fish market.
The president claimed the group was weakened
In an interview with BBC, President Buhari claimed Boko Haram was not able to mount “conventional attacks” against security forces or population centers anymore. He said that they had been reduced to fighting with improvised explosives devices and only remained a serious threat in the heartland of Borno state.
“I think technically we have won the war because people are going back into their neighborhoods. Boko Haram as an organized fighting force, I assure you that we have dealt with them,” the president said.
Progress has been made against the group: a counter-offensive earlier this year took back much of the territory Boko Haram had invaded. The group has been forced to revert to attacking lower-profile targets like markets, bus stations and places of worship. But those critical of the government were not buying the president’s claim; they believe the government is exaggerating the success against Boko Haram and that every time the army says they have eradicated them, the group rebuilds. With these latest attacks, it appears that Boko Haram is trying to prove that it is still capable of causing widespread destruction.