World Bulletin / News Desk
At least 21 people, including six militants, were killed and scores wounded on Tuesday in a massive blast and shootout in Maiduguri, provincial capital of Nigeria's restive Borno State.
"There were fifteen casualties…Six terrorists were also killed while one was arrested," army spokesman Chris Olukolade said in a statement.
He said seventeen people were also injured while eight vehicles were burnt.
Earlier in the evening Olukolade had told Anadolu Agency that army troops, acting on intelligence, had fired at terrorists driving cars loaded with improvised explosive devices (IEDs).
"The intention was to arrest the terrorists, but they defied security checks in a clear bid to carry out their dastardly act," he had said. "The IEDs were demobilized by fire shot at them."
In his statement, Olukolade said four bombers died instantly while the two others were killed in an ensuing shootout with security forces.
He said the militants were apparently headed for a massive state-owned gas station, located on the Maiduguri-Damboa Road, in hopes of inflicting maximum casualties.
Mustapha Abba-Aji, who lives in the area, said the explosions damaged a fence and some buildings belonging to the nearby Peace FM radio station.
"Many people have died from the explosions, as there are many charred bodies of victims scattered around," he had told AA earlier.
The area has since been cordoned off by police, while the road remains blocked to allow security agents to collect the bodies of victims.
It was the second time in two weeks that suspected Boko Haram bombers target Maiduguri – a method they may hope to substitute for increasingly costly exchanges with Nigerian troops.
On March 25, two bombers killed five policemen and three civilians in the city.
A hitherto peaceful organization that had preached against government corruption, Boko Haram suddenly turned violent in 2009 following the murder of its leader, Mohamed Yusuf, while in police custody.
In the years since, the group has been blamed for thousands of terrorist acts, including attacks on churches and security posts across the country's north.
Although it claims to want an Islamist government in the region, Nigerian Muslims – most of whom reject Boko Haram as un-Islamic – have also been targeted by the militant sect.Last Mod: 02 Nisan 2014, 11:15