A young girl detonated explosives hidden under her clothes as she approached the gates of Damaturu bus station in northeast Nigeria
The Damaturu bus station has been repeatedly targeted in a string of previous suicide attacks. “I was in the station when I saw the young girl arrive,” said bus driver Musbahu Lawan. “I think she noticed the guards checking people at the gates and she decided to detonate the explosives in the middle of the crowd outside the gates.” Nguru added: “The road leading to the gates is always full of small traders … I was lucky not to have been hit.”
No claim of responsibility for the attack has been made but Islamist group Boko Haram has frequently used young girls to carry out suicide attacks. Meanwhile, Boko Haram recaptured the strategic town of Marte in northeastern Nigeria’s restive Borno state, a regional official said early on Saturday. “It is sad as we have been made to understand that Marte has today completely fallen under the control of the insurgents, which to us is a very huge setback,” said Alhaji Zannah Mustapha, vice governor of the Borno state.
The town, located along a strategic trading route between Nigeria and neighbouring Cameroon and Chad, has traded hands between the jihadists and government troops numerous times since 2013. A regional military coalition of Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Cameroon has claimed a series of major victories against Boko Haram since launching sweeping offensives against the terrorist group in February. But the jihadists, who recently pledged allegiance to the Islamic State extremists who have captured swaths of Iraq and Syria, have been pushing back, killing at least 55 people in two raids on villages near Maiduguri – the first assault on the northern city in three months.
“Even if 90% of our communities have been liberated, the war is not yet over,” Mustapha cautioned early on Saturday. Boko Haram’s six-year insurgency has claimed some 15,000 lives and displaced 1.5 million people.