Two female suicide bombers are likely responsible for multiple explosions at a presidential election rally in northeast Nigeria on Monday. President Goodluck Jonathan himself is reported to have narrowly missed the blast. Many suspect the hand of radical Islamist group Boko Haram was involved in the terrorist incident.
The Agence France-Presse reports that the bombs went off just as the incumbent world leader was leaving the rally held for voters considering giving Jonathan a second tenure. Organizers held the rally in Gombe, a state bordering Borno and Adamawa, the two most devastated by Boko Haram attacks.
While officials said little about what type of bomb was used, they noted that the bodies of two women were brought to the hospital. “We have evacuated two bodies of females we believe were suicide bombers behind the blast,” one official leading the rescue efforts told the AFP.
The bombing is the latest in a string of attacks that appear designed to sabotage Nigeria’s presidential elections, to be held on February 14. Officials, AFP notes, are concerned that much of the population of the northeast will not be able to vote, and instead will be fleeing certain death at the hands of the jihadist group.
Meanwhile, the candidates are attempting to continue campaigning while keeping out of the line of fire. Nigeria’s Vanguard newspaper reports that both Jonathan and his opponent, former Nigerian dictator Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, have canceled rallies in troubled parts of the country.
Jonathan canceled a rally in Yobe state, west of Borno, which has long been a Boko Haram stronghold and boasts being the birthplace of Boko Haram founder Ibrahim Yusuf. Buhari canceled a trip to Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state, which is currently under active attack by Boko Haram. Vanguard claims the campaign did not give a reason for canceling the Maiduguri rally.
The reason is clear: Maiduguri is sustaining heavy attack from Boko Haram, with multiple militaries working to keep them from seizing the capital city of two million. Just Monday, a combination of Nigerian troops and armed civilians pushed back an assault by the terrorist organization, while Chad and Cameroon provide more military help in keeping Boko Haram from crossing into their countries, making them even more elusive for Nigerian troops. In response to elevated violence by the group, including the destruction of Baga, a town in which it is believed 2,000 were killed in one day, the African Union has authorized troops comprised of soldiers from Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon, Niger, and Benin to take on the terrorists. In addition, French military pilots are conducting surveillance missions over the affected territories.