Two female suicide bombers have attacked a mosque in the north-eastern Nigerian city of Maiduguri, killing 22 worshippers, the army says.
The first bomber struck inside the mosque, while the second blew herself up outside as survivors tried to flee. Eighteen other people were wounded in the attack, the army added.
Maiduguri is the birthplace of Islamist group Boko Haram’s insurgency which has killed 20,000 people since 2009. “We were just a few metres away from the mosque when a loud bang erupted and all we could see was dark smoke and bodies littered around,” another witness told Associated Press news agency.
The attack took place a few minutes after worshippers started an early morning prayer, the chief imam of Umarari mosque on the outskirts of the city. “My hearing was affected by the blast. I can’t hear well at the moment,” he added.
A statement from Nigeria’s army says all the wounded have been taken to a hospital in a nearby town.
Last year, a regional military offensive helped drive out Boko Haram from most of the areas it had seized in north-eastern Nigeria. However, the group, which is linked to the so-called Islamic State, has continued to carry out suicide attacks in northern Nigeria and neighbouring Cameroon.
- Founded in 2002, initially focused on opposing Western-style education – Boko Haram means “Western education is forbidden” in the Hausa language
Launched military operations in 2009
Thousands killed, mostly in north-eastern Nigeria, hundreds abducted, including at least 200 schoolgirls
Joined so-called Islamic State, now calls itself IS’s “West African province”
Seized large area in north-east, where it declared caliphate
Regional force has retaken most territory this year