Yola (Nigeria): The suicide bomber exploded as truckers were tucking into dinner at the bustling marketplace where vendors urged them to buy sugar cane.
At least 34 people were killed and another 80 wounded in Yola, a town packed with refugees from Nigeria’s Islamic uprising, emergency officials said yesterday.
Later yesterday, two more suicide bombers killed at least 15 people in the northern city of Kano and injured 53, according to police. Nigeria’s National Emergency Management Agency said more than 100 were wounded.
The blasts were the latest by Boko Haram, Nigeria’s home-grown extremists whose 6-year insurgency has killed 20,000 and forced 2.3 million to flee their homes.
Boko Haram was named yesterday as the world’s most deadly extremist group in the Global Terrorism Index. Deaths attributed to Boko Haram increased by 317 percent in 2014 to 6,644 compared to 6,073 blamed on the Islamic State group.
Boko Haram pledged allegiance to IS in March and calls itself that group’s West Africa Province.
Yesterday’s explosions came as President Muhammadu Buhari pressed his campaign against Nigeria’s endemic corruption, blamed for hampering the fight against the insurgents. Buhari accused his predecessor’s national security adviser of stealing billions of dollars meant to buy weapons to fight Boko Haram, when soldiers had just a few bullets and the Islamic extremists were rampaging across northeast Nigeria.
Critics long have blamed corruption for the military’s failures, asking how the insurgents can be better armed than Nigerian soldiers despite an annual defense budget of more than USD 5 billion, supplemented last year by a loan of USD 1 billion.
Buhari ordered the arrests of several former high-ranking officials allegedly linked to fraudulent and fictitious arms contracts totalling USD 5.4 billion, one of his advisers, Femi Adesina, said in a statement.
“Thousands of needless Nigerian deaths would have been avoided” if the money had been properly spent, Adesina said. The unending violence has torn apart Nigeria’s northeast. In the city of Yola, hit by a suicide bombing for the third time in as many months, relatives searching for missing loved ones converged on the two main hospitals.
“I couldn’t find them at the hospital so I had to come to the mortuary,” said a distraught Musa Adamu. He said his brother, Kamal, was selling sugar cane to truckers and his uncle had gone to look for him.
Adamu found both their bodies in the morgue.
Eight children were among the dead, said Yola Specialist Hospital director Dr. Bala Sa’id.
Many Nigerians welcomed the order for the arrest of Sambo Dasuki, the former national security adviser accused of diverting billions that should have equipped the army.