Paris Copycats? 32 Dead After Suicide Bomber Strikes Nigerian Marketplace

Security forces view the scene of a bomb explosion at St. Theresa Catholic Church at Madalla, Suleja, just outside Nigeria's capital Abuja, December 25, 2011. (Photo: (REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde))

ISIS-affiliated Boko Haram is believed to be responsible for a Nov. 19 suicide bomber attack that killed 32 and wounded 80 in a marketplace in Yola, a Nigerian town it previously targeted one month ago.

"Thirty-two people were killed and 80 have been injured," a Red Cross official who asked not to be named told Reuters. The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) of Nigeria confirmed the casualty numbers, adding a suicide bomber was the cause of the explosion.

No organization has yet claimed credit for the attack, but it is consistent with the behavior and within the territory of Boko Haram, a militant Islamic group that has been responsible for thousands of deaths in Nigeria since 2003.

"The ground near my shop was covered with dead bodies," said Alhaji Ahmed, a nearby business owner, who witnessed the explosion. "I helped to load 32 dead bodies into five vehicles." Another witness told Reuters he saw eight ambulances being used to carry casualties away for treatment.

Since Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari took office in May, Boko Haram, which attained international notoriety for the kidnapping of over 250 schoolgirls and has continued to kidnap and kill Nigerian citizens in the northeastern part of the country, has killed about 1,000 more people.

President Buhari, who has vowed to eradicate the terrorist group, visited a camp for displaced people in Yola five days ago, where he also awarded medals to soldiers fighting Boko Haram terrorists.

PARALLELS TO PARIS

"Can we draw parallels to what is going on in Paris and this? Likely," said Ryan Cummings, chief Africa analyst for the crisis management company, red24, according to CNN. "Boko Haram is likely to take advantage of the public relations aspect to gain some attention through attacks in its own territory."

"Boko Haram has always shown the intent and operational capacity to carry out attacks such as these," Cummings pointed out. "Yola has traditionally been an operational stronghold of the group, and they have also had an established presence in Kano for some time."

On the same day in Kano, two suicide bombers—an 11-year-old and an 18-year-old girl—killed 15 and injured over 100 in a mobile phone market, CNN reported. The market was targeted by Boko Haram in January 2012.

The Global Terrorism Index 2015, the latest report from the Institute for Economics and Peace, identifies Boko Haram as more deadly even than ISIS, to which it has pledged allegiance.

Over the past year, "[Nigeria] witnessed the largest increase in terrorist deaths ever recorded by any country, increasing by over 300 percent to 7,512 fatalities. Boko Haram, which operates mainly in Nigeria, has become the most deadly terrorist group in the world. Boko Haram pledged its allegiance to ISIL (also known as the Islamic State)" in March 2015, the report said.

This article was originally published in Christian Examiner.

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