The first blast tore through the mosque, and the second occurred near the building a few minutes later in Ummarari, a village outside Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State and a longtime target of the militant Islamic group Boko Haram.
Boko Haram has been terrorizing this part of Nigeria for years and is suspected of carrying out the attacks, according to a statement from Col. Sani Kukasheka Usman, a spokesman for the Nigerian Army.
The militants have been increasingly using suicide bombers — many of them women and girls — to carry out attacks on mosques, markets and other public spaces in recent weeks, as the group shifts away from seizing huge sections of territory. In Wednesday’s attack, at least one of the bombers was dressed as a man, probably to gain better access to the crowds inside the mosque, where women are not allowed in some areas.
A major push by the Nigerian military to destroy the group, an effort that has involved neighboring countries and assistance from the United States military, has driven many of the fighters from villages and into hiding in the forest.
The militants, however, are proving resilient. The bombings have unnerved hundreds of thousands of people, who have fled their homes and are either living in camps that are running short of food and water or crammed into temporary housing with friends, relatives or strangers.
The attacks have spread to nearby countries, including Chad, Niger and Cameroon, where the group is picking up new recruits.
Benin announced this week that it was joining the multinational task force assembled to fight Boko Haram.
“We will not rest on our oars until all those that masterminded this latest heinous and other similar crimes are apprehended and brought to justice,” Colonel Usman said in the statement. (Courtesy New York Times)