A Boko Haram bombing near a soccer field in northeastern Nigeria killed a reported 40 people Sunday afternoon, just a few days after Nigeria President Goodluck Jonathan pledged to wage “total war” against the terror group which has killed thousands in its campaign to create a conservative Islamic state in Africa’s most populous country.
The bomb, which struck in the city of Mubi in the Nigerian state of Adamawa at about 6 pm local time — 1 pm US Eastern Time — hit a bar and brothel near the soccer field as fans were filing out of the game.
More significantly, the watering hole is located near a major Nigerian military base in an area called Kaban, frequented by both civilians and soldiers. Initial witness reports placed the number of dead at 40 in the bombing, which is being blamed on Boko Haram though the group has not yet claimed responsibility. Other reports estimated the death toll as high as 60.
“There has been a bomb explosion at a football field this evening and so far more than 40 people have been killed,” a Mubi police officer told the French press agency AFP, though he requested anonymity because he is not an official spokesperson for the police. A nurse at Mubi General Hospital confirmed the policeman’s account to AFP.
While Boko Haram has struck mainly in the northeast of Nigeria, Mubi had been spared since 2012. But in October of that year, Boko Haram militants massacred dozens of college students in their dorms in the city in especially gruesome fashion, slitting the throats of many victims.
Witness Muhammad Hassan, a spectator at the soccer match, said that the blast appeared to originate from within the mass of fans as they made their way across the field to exit the area.
The bombing came one day after residents in the Nigerian state of Brono reported that Boko Haram gunmen rampaged through several villages, killing and burning indiscriminately.
“They burnt all the villages and took away all our livestock,” said witness Bunu Kaloma, a resident of Nuwari, which was one of four villages attacked by the Boko Haram terrorists. Kaloma said that 15 people were killed in the assaults, but there has been no independent confirmation of that death toll.
Sunday’s bombing struck near the Nigerian Army’s Special Operations Battalion headquarters. The battalion has been the principal force used by the Nigerian government to strike back at Boko Haram.