DAMATURU, Nigeria (Reuters) - Two suspected child suicide bombers blew themselves up in a market in northeast Nigeria on Sunday, witnesses said, killing three people in the second apparent attack in two days using young girls strapped with explosives.
The blasts struck around mid-afternoon at an open market selling mobile handsets in the town of Potiskum in Yobe state, which has frequently been attacked by the Sunni Muslim jihadist group Boko Haram.
A trader at the market, Sani Abdu Potiskum, said the bombers were about 10 years old. “I saw their dead bodies. They are two young girls of about 10 years of age ... you only see the plaited hair and part of the upper torso,” the trader said.
A source at the Potiskum general hospital said three people had been killed, excluding the bombers, while 46 were injured.
The town was hit by a suicide bomber in November when at least 48 people, mainly students, were killed during a school assembly. On Saturday, a bomb exploded at a police station in Potiskum.
Sunday’s explosions came a day after a bomb strapped to a girl aged around 10 years old exploded in a busy market place in the Nigerian city of Maiduguri, killing at least 16 people and injuring more than 20, security sources said.
Boko Haram has been waging a five year insurgency to establish an Islamic state in the northeast of the country and the army’s inability to quash the movement is a headache for President Goodluck Jonathan, who is seeking re-election in February.
Last year more than 10,000 people died in the violence, according to an estimate by the Council on Foreign Relations
The military lost ground in worst-hit Borno state last weekend after insurgents took over the town of Baga and nearby army base, killing over 100 people and forcing thousands to flee. The defence headquarters said on Saturday that the army was regrouping to retake the area.
In the city of Jos in Plateau state, Jonathan’s campaign team was hit by two days of violence.
The driver of a campaign vehicle was killed on Sunday by youths who also set fire to a police station, police spokesman Abu Sunday Emmanuel said. On Saturday, two other campaign vehicles were burnt.
“The youths were chanting no PDP, no to Jonathan Badluck,” a witness said, referring to the ruling People’s Democratic Party.
PDP spokesman Olisa Metuh said in an emailed statement that the government “decried last Saturday’s unprovoked attack on President Goodluck Jonathan’s campaign vehicles in Jos.
Additional reporting by Ardo Abdullah in Bauchi, Buhari Bello in Jos and Camillus Eboh in Abuja, Writing by Julia Payne; Editing by Dominic Evans