No fewer than 17 persons were killed when suspected suicide bomber detonated bomb at the popular GSM Market near the Post Office in Maiduguri on Tuesday.
Survivors told the News Agency of Nigeria in Maiduguri that the incident occurred at about 2pm shortly after the Zuhur prayers.
Lawan Tanko, Commissioner of Police in the State, confirmed the blast.
Tanko said, “It is true that we had a blast at the GSM market after a suicide bomber driving a firewood seller’s vehicle, detonated his bomb around 1pm. Security agents rushed to the scene and cordoned off the place to restore normalcy.
“We counted about 17 dead bodies as at 2.30pm but the evacuation is ongoing. We also counted five injured persons that were carried to hospital.’’
He said the casualties included a Traffic Warder, who sustained injuries.
He said he had instructed his men to visit hospitals in the state capital to get comprehensive details of the casualties of the blast.
Tanko added that the police had also fortified security in all public places to prevent any incident in the state capital.
A Red Cross official, who helped in evacuating the victims, Malam Ibrahim Mubi, confirmed the development, saying he could not give the actual number of the casualties at the time.
Malam Fantami Ali, a trader at the GSM market said he counted about 30 corpses after the blast.
The Maiduguri post office, situated in the heart of the metropolis, is said to be a very busy area where traders, mostly from the eastern part of the country, sell handsets.
An eyewitness said the explosion shook the whole of Maiduguri town, as people ran helter skelter for their lives.
As of time of filing this report, the death toll had not been ascertained as soldiers had barricaded the whole area, preventing people from going near the scene of the blast.
Blood-spattered people were seen fleeing and vehicles crashed into each other, while soldiers fired automatic weapons.
The Islamist militant group, Boko Haram, has carried out numerous attacks in the region.
Its campaign of violence is aimed at imposing Islamic rule in northern Nigeria.
The Director of Defence Information, Maj. Gen Chris Olukolade, confirmed the bomb blast incident in Maiduguri when our correspondent contacted him on the telephone.
Olukolade said that security operatives had arrested a suspected insurgent in relation with the explosion.
He said that the suspect was already assisting the investigating team with useful information.
Olukolade said that investigation into the latest violence was ongoing adding that details of the incident would be made known later.
An eyewitness said he had seen what appeared to be dead bodies on the ground, and another spoke of seven fatalities.
A second car is reported to have been set on fire by the blast.