Death toll hits 117 after NE Nigeria bombings

The death toll from a series of bomb blasts blamed on Boko Haram in Maiduguri in northeastern Nigeria has risen to at least 117, hospital sources said Tuesday, more than twice the official tally.

A total of 72 dead were registered at the University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital, while another 45 were taken to the mortuary at the Borno State Specialist Hospital, three medical staff said.

Borno state’s capital has been hit repeatedly since President Muhammadu Buhari came to power on May 29, vowing to crush the insurgency.

But Sunday night’s attacks were the deadliest so far.

Nigeria’s military claims the Islamist militants are a spent force and that troops have driven them from their camps and occupied territory in the remote region.

But the blasts underlined the threat the group still poses with its guerrilla-style tactics against “soft” civilian targets.

Borno police on Monday said that 54 people died and 90 were injured in the bombings, which hit worshippers at a mosque, football fans watching a televised match and bystanders.

Locals disputed the figures, saying at least 85 died and that some people had taken loved ones killed in the blasts directly for burial rather than to hospitals.

“Sixty-nine dead bodies were brought here and three other people died while receiving treatment,” an orthopaedic doctor at the University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital said on Tuesday.

“I am afraid that there are some victims with grievous injuries who may likely require referral to other specialised hospitals.”

A mortuary worker at the hospital confirmed the tally.

“Some bereaved families have come and claimed the bodies of their loved ones but we still have many here,” he said.

At the city’s State Specialist Hospital, a senior nursing officer said 45 bodies were brought to the mortuary.

“Most of the bodies were unrecognisable because of the burns the victims sustained,” he said.

“Most of the 43 people that died in the mosque were brought here.”

More than 70 others who were injured were also brought for treatment, he added.

The sources requested anonymity as they were not authorised to speak to the media.