Adelani Adepegba with agency reports
Twin bomb blasts on Wednesday rocked the Chibok community in Borno State, killing 11 persons and injuring 35 others.
It was learnt that the explosions went off at a military checkpoint and a market simultaneously, shattering the fragile security situation in the town where about 219 school girls were abducted by the Boko Haram sect in 2014. The girls have yet to be rescued.
Our correspondent learnt that a suspected bomber was apprehended at a different location in the town.
The number of military personnel affected by the blasts could not be immediately ascertained, but it was gathered that many of them might have been injured.
The Chairman, Chibok Community in Abuja, Chief Tsambido Abana, confirmed to our correspondent that 11 persons had so far died while 35 others were injured in the attacks which were suspected to have been carried out by suicide bombers.
Abana stated that his uncle and nephew were also injured in the blasts.
He said, “Yes, there were two bomb blasts at Chibok today (Wednesday) which claimed
11 lives, 35 others were also injured.
“A blast went off in the market while another one exploded at a military checkpoint. My uncle and niece were also injured in the blasts, they are being treated in the hospital now.”
The blasts happened at about midday when the remote town was packed with traders from surrounding villages for the weekly market, Chibok elder Ayuba Chibok told AFP.
“Ten died on the spot and another one died on the way to hospital,” said a health worker, Dazzban Buba, who volunteered to treat the injured at hospital.
The blasts bore the hallmarks of Boko Haram, which has repeatedly hit “soft” civilian targets such as markets, mosques and bus stations as well as military and civilian vigilante checkpoints.
Chibok came to prominence in April 2014 when Islamist fighters stormed a boarding school and kidnapped 276 girls, causing global outrage.
Fifty-seven girls managed to escape in the immediate aftermath but 219 are still being held and have not been seen since they appeared in a Boko Haram video in May that year.
Chibok was briefly overrun by the Islamic State group-allied rebels in November 2014 but recaptured by the military after several days.
Ayuba Chibok and Buba both said Wednesday’s blasts were suicide attacks and had prompted terrified residents to lock themselves inside their homes or flee in fear of repeat attacks.
“The first bomber set off his explosives at the checkpoint where people coming into the town were being searched,” said the town elder.
“A second bomber managed to get into the market and blew himself up.”
Buba said he rushed to help his brother who was injured in the first blast in the Bamzir Road area of the town.
The second blast happened shortly afterwards, fitting a pattern of Boko Haram suicide attacks with multiple bombers setting off their devices almost simultaneously.
But Buba said it was still unclear whether the third bomber deliberately detonated his explosives or whether the device was triggered when troops opened fire as he fled.
Buba said the 30 injured were mostly suffering from burns and fractures, and that nine had been discharged, he added.
There was no immediate comment from the police, the military or the government’s main relief agency.
Recent weeks have seen a lull in Boko Haram attacks, with only three recorded in Nigeria this month but those that have occurred underline the difficulty in protecting hard-to-reach rural areas.
The insurgents raided a village in Yobe state on Sunday, killing one man, while on January 11, another raid in the Adamawa state town of Madagali left seven dead.
Seven people were killed in a raid and suicide bomb attack in Izgeki village on January 5. Gunmen also looted food and burnt a large part of Nchiha village near Chibok earlier the same day.
On December 6, there was a similar attack in Takulashi village, also near Chibok, which again saw fighters raid food and steal more than 200 cattle.
President Muhammadu Buhari on December 24 declared the rebels were “technically” defeated but at least 66 people were then killed in raids and suicide bombings in the days following.
According to an AFP tally, more than 1,650 people have been killed since Buhari came to power in May last year, vowing to crush the insurgency, which has left at least 17,000 dead since 2009.
On Monday, 32 people were killed when at least three suicide bombers blew themselves up at a market in Bodo village in northern Cameroon.