Nigeria: Death Toll Rises in Car Bombings

Officials say dozens of people have died in a twin car bombing in northeastern Nigeria. The region is a stronghold of Islamic extremists who have been conducting a bloody insurgency.

Police and witnesses said Sunday the number of people confirmed dead after a double car bombing at a marketplace in the city of Maiduguri has risen to more than 30.

Borno state police commissioner Lawal Tanko told AFP news agency that 35 bodies had been found so far, but that police were "still counting."

Witnesses and an unnamed Red Cross official have put the death toll from Saturday's attack at more than 50, with the number expected to rise as dead bodies were pulled from under the rubble of dozens of destroyed houses.

Survivors of the two explosions told AP news agency that the victims included children dancing at a wedding celebration and people watching a soccer match on an outdoor TV screen.

Witnesses said most of the dead were killed by a second explosion while people were trying to help those injured in a first blast fifteen minutes earlier.

Longrunning insurgency

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack. But Maiduguri, the capital of the state of Borno, is situated in the region where the Boko Haram Islamist terrorist group has carried out a number of recent deadly attacks in its declared bid to create a strict Islamic state in northern Nigeria.

An attack in January on a popular market in the city killed dozens of people.

Boko Haram, which means "Western education is evil" in the local Hausa language, has staged attacks across the north and center of the country since 2009, but recent violence has been concentrated in the northeastern region where the group was created around a decade ago.

More than 300 people were killed in February alone in attacks by the group, despite a new army and air force offensive by the government. The United Nations says nearly 300,000 people have been displaced in the region.

Nigeria is divided into a mainly Muslim north and predominantly Christian south. It is Africa's most populous country, with a population of 170 million.

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