Two bomb blasts hit northeastern Nigeria late Saturday killing at least 18 and injuring over two dozen people, according to reports. One of the attacks was carried out by a suicide bomber while the other was a bomb blast in a cattle market, reports added, citing local officials.
"A female suicide bomber detonated an improvised explosive device strapped to her body along the Baga-Monguno highway, killing herself and two others on Saturday," Borno state police commissioner Aderemi Opadokun said, according to Agence France-Presse. He also said that four others were wounded in the deadly assault.
A cattle market -- also in the northeastern state of Borno -- was the scene of a bomb blast that left at least 16 people dead and injured dozens.
"At about 4:30 p.m. on Saturday they brought casualties from the blast scene ...16 bodies were deposited with 24 injured," Lawal Kawu, a paramedic at a teaching hospital in Borno's capital city of Maiduguri, told Reuters. Some of those injured were in critical condition, he added.
Zakariya Shettima, a resident, told Reuters following the attack that he saw blood and body parts, and several shops destroyed.
Islamist militant group Boko Haram, which has carried out an insurgency in northeastern Nigeria for several years, was suspected to be behind the attacks though no group had yet claimed responsibility, according to news agencies.
The group has killed thousands of people and displaced around 1.5 million, according to Reuters, in a bid to establish an Islamic caliphate in northeastern Nigeria. Over the last six years, the group has used female suicide bombers and homemade explosives, AFP noted, adding that there have been six fatal assaults in northeastern Nigeria since Muhammadu Buhari took over as the country’s new president on May 29. However, in recent months, the group has reportedly suffered setbacks following counterattacks by the government.
Buhari, in his inaugural speech, had said the “mindless, godless” militants would be defeated, and announced that the command center for military operations would be moved from the capital, Abuja, to the northeast, and closer to Boko Haram strongholds.