What was supposed to be the start of the joyous Eid al-Fitr holiday turned into a nightmare for scores of Muslims in northeast Nigeria. A bomb detonated at a prayer ground early Friday in the Yobe state capital of Damaturu, where Muslims were about to start their Eid celebrations after a long month of fasting. Authorities urged Muslims who were going to the ground for morning prayers to return home, according to local media.
“It happened at about 8 a.m.,” Damaturu resident Abdul Malik told Nigerian newspaper, Premium Times. “Now we are being asked to return back home. Those that had gotten close to the Eid ground said many people were affected.”
The exact number of casualties from the blast was still unknown. Sources told Nigerian broadcast station Channels Television that scores were feared dead.
The start of Eid can vary in different parts of the world, but Muslims in Nigeria this year observed the holiday on Friday, beginning with morning prayers and a small breakfast before gathering with family and friends for feasts and celebrations. Eid marks the end to the Islamic holy month of Ramadan and the beginning of the Islamic month of Shawwal.
At least 30 people were killed in two explosions at a market Thursday in the capital city of Gombe state in northeast Nigeria. At least two suicide bombers were involved in the deadly attack and officials counted at least 30 dead bodies, Al Jazeera reported.
No one has claimed responsibility for either bombing, but the region has been under constant attack by Boko Haram, an Islamist militant group based in northeast Nigeria that has killed more than 15,000 people in a six-year insurgency. Borno, Yobe, Adamawa and Gombe states have been most affected by the insurgents.
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has vowed to eliminate Boko Haram from the West African nation. He will travel to the United States this weekend where he is scheduled to meet with U.S. President Barack Obama and other senior officials at the White House on Monday.