BAUCHI, Nigeria (REUTERS) - A child suicide bomber blew himself up in a market in northeast Nigeria Friday, killing at least 10 people, witnesses said, the latest bloodshed to hit the region, which is plagued by Islamist violence.
They said a huge blast erupted at around midday (7pm Singapore time) in the crowded market in Gombi in Adamawa state, one of the worst-hit in the seven-year Boko Haram insurgency.
The blast came after three suicide bombers killed at least 14 people in town of Chibok on Wednesday, where Islamist gunmen kidnapped more than 200 girls in April 2014.
Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari last month declared that the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria group affiliate had been “technically” defeated but there has been no let-up in suicide and bomb attacks.
In the latest attack, trader Mustapha Jalo told AFP: “I heard a huge explosion coming from the grain section, which is at the edge of the market.
“Many of us rushed to the scene and we found carnage. People were scattered everywhere.
“I can say over 10 people died in the explosion. I can’t give precise number of the injured but there are many.”
Gombi, which lies about 120km from the state capital, Yola, has been hit several times by Boko Haram attacks, with the most recent taking place in March 2015.
Adamu Ahmad, a security guard at the market, gave a similar account to Jalo, saying the bomber was believed to be a boy aged around 12.
“There was a suicide explosion at the grain section of the market around midday. The explosion killed at least 11 people and injured several others,” he said.
“The attack was believed to have been carried out by a boy of around 12. Today is market day in Gombi and the market attracts thousands of people from the district.”
Following the blast, the market closed down and all the traders returned home, he added.
Boko Haram, which is looking to establish a hardline Islamic state in mainly Muslim northern Nigeria, has killed at least 17,000 people since its campaign began in 2009.
At the same time, more than 2.6 million others have fled their homes. Some 2.0 million have been displaced within Nigeria, with the others fled into neighbouring Cameroon, Chad and Niger.
A counter-insurgency begun last year by the Nigerian military, supported by troops from surrounding nations, has succeeded in recapturing swathes of territory lost to the militants in 2014.
But cross-border attacks have become more commonplace: on Thursday, four people were killed by suicide bombers in the town of Kerawa in Cameroon’s extreme north region.
On Monday, at least 37 died in four suicide attacks at a market in Bodo. In all, nearly 1,200 people have been killed in Cameroon since 2003, according to the government in Yaounde.
“Soft” civilian targets such as markets, mosques and bus stations have frequently been hit.
The group regularly uses young women and girls as human bombs, although experts suggest many of them are coerced into wearing suicide vests and the explosives are detonated remotely.