Contradicting earlier reports that placed casualty figures at 12 dead, hospital officials and witnesses who helped clean up have exposed new, more realistic figures.
Eyewitnesses and a security source said the death toll was so high because the suicide bomber appeared to have targeted roadside traders along the city’s busiest area. One source said the attack left scores of people injured with blood splattered all over the ground. According to Sahara Reporters, witnesses said dismembered bodies were gathered up and taken away from the scene almost an hour after the gruesome attack. Bukar Mali, a trader at the market, said 27 bodies were first taken away, adding that more charred bodies were later discovered. A civilian member of the Joint Task Force said he counted at least 40 dead bodies, adding that another 69 injured victims were taken away to health facilities. Governor Kashim Shettima of Borno visited the scene of the deadly explosion at 2.30 p.m and later went to the state specialist hospital. Addressing the press, Mr. Shettima condemned the attack. He pledged to continue to deliver services to the people of the state, announcing that the families of the 15 youth volunteers who died when they accosted the bomber would receive N1 million each.He said the volunteers sacrificed their lives to save the lives of others.
Dr. Laraba Bello, medical director of the Maiduguri General Hospital, said 18 injured victims had been admitted at the hospital’s accident and emergency ward. She disclosed that the hospital could not admit all the injured victims and was compelled to transfer many to other hospitals. Babagana Bukar, the general manager of the Maiduguri International Market, confirmed that 15 of the dead victims were members of the youth vigilante group the locals call civilian JTF. He told Governor Shettima that 69 injured people were taken to various hospitals. A leader of the youth volunteers in the area told the governor that 17 of their members had died. Angry youths in the market attacked some firefighters for failing to arrive quicker at the scene of the carnage. Today’s attack registered one of the highest casualty rates since January 14 when a blast near the post office in Maiduguri claimed close to fifty lives.