At least 35 people were killed on Monday when Nigerian soldiers opened fire after a bomb blast struck their convoy in Maiduguri, Borno State, nurses at the hospital that received the bodies said.
The nurses in the Umaru Shehu hospital said 30 of the dead were in civilian clothes, while another five wore military uniforms. Militants of the Boko Haram Islamist sect, headquartered in Maiduguri, sometimes wear civilian clothes.
“They brought in so many dead bodies. They were more than 30 civilians, in civilian dress. We counted five dead soldiers as well,” a nurse, who declined to be named, said. Most had died of gunshot wounds, she added.
Boko Haram is waging an insurgency against President Goodluck Jonathan’s government with the avowed aim of reviving an ancient Islamic kingdom in majority Muslim northern Nigeria.
Styled on the Afghan Taliban, the sect’s purported leader Abubakar Shekau has said he wants to impose sharia, Islamic law, on the country of 160 million people, around half of whom are Christians and the other half Muslim. His movement has become the number one security threat to Africa’s top energy producer.
Borno state security spokesman Sagir Musa said he could not confirm or deny the casualty toll, but he admitted troops had opened fire after a bomb they suspected to be remotely detonated wounded two of them in a patrol.
He said the military would give a statement on Wednesday morning (Reuters).