More than 50 people have been confirmed dead due to a teenage suicide bomber in Nigeria, The Guardian reports. The bomber blew himself up in a mosque in Mubi, a town in northeast Nigeria. Notorious militant group Boko Haram, which has killed tens of thousands of people in the region and displaced millions, is thought to be behind the act but has not yet claimed responsibility.
Pictures have surfaced on social media showing the mosque in the aftermath of the attack, which CNN reports took place during a dawn prayer service around 5:20 a.m., with blood stains on the floor and a large, gaping hole in the wall.
“I was there when the rescue was on and 40 people died on the spot and several others were taken to hospital with severe and life-threatening injuries,” said Abubakr Sule, a Nigerian man who lives near the mosque. He had just returned home when he heard the blast and returned to the mosque to help. “The roof was blown off. People near the mosque said the prayer was mid-way when the bomber, who was obviously in the congregation, detonated his explosives.”
— Chicago Tribune (@chicagotribune) November 21, 2017
Police spokesman Othman Abukar also spoke to the press, saying that authorities were “still trying to ascertain to the number of injured because they are in various hospitals.” When asked who was responsible, Abubakar said “We all know the trend. We don’t suspect anyone specifically, but we know those behind such kind of attacks.”
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari claimed last year that the terrorist group had been “crushed,” with the Nigerian military arguing they have won the war against Boko Haram after killing its most prominent leader, Abubakar Shekau. These claims, however, seem to be untrue after watching Boko Haram’s recent trend of activity, especially in the far north of the Adamawa state, where Mubi is located.
Muhammad U. Jibrilla, the governor of Adamawa state, took to twitter to address the situation in a thread and said “We have engaged all security agencies to do the need and take all necessary measures. We call for calm as security has been stepped up in Mubi and environs. We will not rest until those behind this wicked act are brought to book. May the souls of the departed rest in peace. I urge our people to come forward with any information that will help the security agencies in apprehending the culprits. It is unfortunate that people will be killed in cold blood in the place of worship. We are mourning and my heart bleeds.”
I condemned the unfortunate situation of a bomb blast early this morning at the shiwa mosque in the Yelwa area of Mubi. We will continue to ensure that our people are protected and given a sense of security which is the most important responsibility of any government.
— Muhammad U. Jibrilla (@Bindow_Jibrilla) November 21, 2017
Boko Haram is perhaps most well-known for the abduction of hundreds of Chibok schoolgirls three years ago. Many celebrities campaigned to have the girls released, supporting the #BringBackOurGirls campaign. Many of the girls were eventually released, but over 100 still remain missing.
In recent years Boko Haram has been pushed out of its former strongholds, resulting in a shift to their main tactic of bombing. Many young girls and women who walk alone are frequently accusing of carrying bombs underneath their clothing. Boko Haram’s insurgency has lasted nearly a decade, and more than 20,000 deaths have been attributed to the terrorist group. The conflict also affected neighboring countries, displacing millions of people.
This is also not the first time Boko Haram targeted Mubi. In 2014 fighters overran the town while rampaging across the North East of Nigeria. They were attempting to establish an Islamic state, seizing all towns and villages in their path. Military and civilian militia eventually expelled terrorists, and the town of Mubi has been peaceful since.