Newspaper article The Tuscaloosa News

Deadly Blasts Mar Holiday in Nigeria

Newspaper article The Tuscaloosa News

Deadly Blasts Mar Holiday in Nigeria

Article excerpt

NAIROBI, Kenya | As families in northern Nigeria marked the end of the holy month of Ramadan, terrorists mounted a series of deadly attacks, killing scores of people, including many children.

Families traditionally flock into the streets to pray, shop and celebrate one the most joyful celebrations in the Muslim year, Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of a month of daytime fasting and is meant to be a time of unity.

But a market, a mosque and a prayer ground were all targets of attacks. Boko Haram, a terrorist group linked to Islamic State, was believed responsible.

The attacks came just days before Nigeria's new president, Muhammadu Buhari, was due to fly to Washington, where he is expected to press President Barack Obama for more help in the fight against Boko Haram.

Two bombs exploded late Thursday at a market in the northeastern city of Gombe, killing dozens of people shopping for Eid al-Fitr, the National Emergency Management Agency, or NEMA, said in a statement on Twitter.

In Damaturu, the capital of Yobe state, at least 15 people died Friday in two bomb explosions near an open-air prayer ground, set aside for prayers to mark the end of Ramadan, according to police, though the army put the toll at 50. It is not unusual to see conflicting reports on casualties.

The third blast occurred at a mosque.

The explosions were caused by three females wearing suicide vests, according to NEMA, although it was not known whether they detonated the bombs themselves. According to a statement from army spokesman Sani Usman, one of the bombers was a girl about 10 years old.

Boko Haram has increasingly used young women and girls, wearing explosive vests under their long flowing gowns, to mount its attacks. Some reports suggest those blasts are detonated remotely.

According to NEMA, the explosion at the prayer ground happened as people were lining up to be searched before entering the area, a measure designed to prevent an attack.

The attacks underscored the difficulty for Nigeria's military in confronting a nimble, ruthless terrorist group capable of devastating attacks against civilian targets. …

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