Police confirm 19 dead in Nigeria market blast

Agence France Presse

Posted at Jan 16 2014 07:29 AM | Updated as of Jan 16 2014 03:29 PM

MAIDUGURI - A total of 19 people were killed in a car bomb attack on a busy market blamed on Boko Haram militants, police in Maiduguri, northeast Nigeria, said on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, witnesses reported that another five people were killed in a separate attack also allegedly carried out by Boko Haram gunmen, just hours after the market explosion.

"From the latest tally at our disposal, the death toll stands at 19," Lawan Tanko, the police commissioner of Borno state, of which Maiduguri is the capital, told AFP of the market blast.

The military said that Tuesday's blast, on a public holiday when people in the mainly Muslim city were celebrating the birth of the Prophet Mohammed, was the work of the banned Islamist group.

Some reports suggested that up to 30 people were killed in the explosion but Tanko dismissed the claims.

He added that there was no precise figure on the number of injured, as many people had been taken to different hospitals and private clinics.

Witnesses meanwhile reported a separate attack at Tuba village, about 40 kilometres (25 miles) from Maiduguri, which struck less than three hours after the market blast.

Four of the victims were members of a local vigilante group. They died at the scene of the attack, while a fifth victim died in hospital from his wounds, they said.

"They came on motorcycles, stormed (the village) around 5:30 pm (1630 GMT) and opened fire on some people, including our brother, who were resting under a tree," one witness said.

The attackers later fled the scene.

There was no official confirmation from the army or police on the village attack.

Maiduguri is considered the spiritual home of Boko Haram, which wants to create an Islamic state in northern Nigeria and is deemed an international terrorist organisation by the United States.