Maiduguri (Nigeria) (AFP) – Three bomb blasts on Sunday rocked the northeastern Nigerian city of Maiduguri, the stronghold of Boko Haram Islamists, the army said, but there were no immediate reports of casualties.
“There were three improvised explosive devices explosions at Gomari and Ajilari general area in Maiduguri at about 7:21 pm (1821 GMT),” military spokesman Sani Usman said in a statement.
“Although details are not clear, it is important to note the attacks signify high level of desperation on the part of the Boko Haram terrorists,” he said.
Local residents spoke of hearing at least two explosions within a few minutes of each other in the restive city’s densely-populated Binta Sugar area.
“We heard the first sound around 7:40 pm (1840 GMT) shortly before we entered the mosque for the last prayers of the day,” said Musa, who lives in the nearby Bulunkutu neighbourhood.
“I later gathered the bomb blast occurred at Binta Sugar,” he said. A few minutes later, another bomb went off in the same area.
“There was serious fireball after the second explosion,” added another local resident, Ndahi Mache.
It was not clear if there were any casualties but police, soldiers and civilian vigilantes have cordoned off the area, witnesses said.
Usman confirmed that members of the security forces had been deployed to the area and said the army was determined to defeat “Boko Haram terrorists in the shortest possible time.”
The military has made a series of gains against Boko Haram after President Muhammadu Buhari recently set a three-month deadline to wipe out the extremists.
Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state and the birthplace of Boko Haram, has been the epicentre of the six-year-old insurgency of the hardline Islamist group.
Boko Haram which seeks to carve out an Islamic state in the mainly-Muslim northeast Nigeria has killed at least 15,000 and displaced more than two million people since 2009.
Apart from suicide attacks on so-called “soft targets” such as markets, bus stations and mosques, the insurgents have also carried out cross-border attacks in Chad, Cameroon and Niger.