Boko Haram militants are suspected of being behind a blast from two suicide bombers that killed 31 civilians Thursday evening in Yola, the capital city of Adamawa State on Nigeria’s eastern border.
“I can see blood splattered everywhere, including my car, but I can’t give any detail because we are all running,” bread seller Ayuba Dan Mallam said shortly after the blast.
An early witness said that at least 10 people were killed and about 30 injured, but an official report from Sa’ad Bello of Nigeria’s Agency for National Emergencies now places the death toll at 31 with another 38 hospitalized.
A resident of the town, Salihu Aliyu, said that the explosion occurred in front of the Jimeta main market at about 7:45 p.m. Thursday.
“We just finished observing the Maghrib prayer when we heard a loud blast near the market,” Aliyu said.
He added that the explosion occurred when many traders had closed their shops and were rushing home.
“You know many traders also come out of the market and display their wares outside the main market to also observe the night market. There was even traffic gridlock in the area with many Keke Napep (tricycle taxi) operators jostling for passengers when the bomb exploded,” he said.
No one has come forward to take responsibility for the attack, but authorities believe it was the work of Islamist militants of Boko Haram. Deputy Police Superintendent Othman Abubakar explicitly blamed Boko Haram and said two suicide bombers were found among the 31 corpses recovered from the scene.
Adamawa State lies along Nigeria’s eastern border immediately below Borno State, where Boko Haram was born and has concentrated its forces.
This was the first attack on Yola since Boko Haram began its rampage in the Nigerian Northeast. The population of Yola has doubled in the recent period because 300,000 refugees have fled there to escape Boko Haram violence.
Thursday’s attack was the latest in a series of explosions that have led to the death of eighty people in recent days, following the installation of President Muhammadu Buhari last week.
Buhari, who has already met with allies in Niger and Chad, said he would make the war on Islamist terrorists the linchpin of his political program.
Daily attacks began after Buhari declared at his inauguration on May 29 that he would move the command center for the war from Abuja, the capital in central Nigeria, to Maiduguri.
Follow Thomas D. Williams on Twitter @tdwilliamsrome.