Gunmen armed with explosives have killed at least 34 people in the northeastern city of Potiskum, Yobe State when they attacked a cattle market and burned it to the ground, residents and officials say.
The Wednesday night attack in Potiskum, which lasted for about 15 minutes was said to be in reprisal for an incident earlier in the day, when a gang sought to rob the market but were fought off by traders who caught one of the attackers, police said.
Residents say the attacker who was caught was doused in petrol and a tyre was placed around his neck before he was burnt to death.
“A group of gunmen armed with around 20 explosives and assault rifles attacked the Potiskum cattle market,” police spokesman Toyin Gbadegesin told AFP.
“They threw explosives and shot indiscriminately, setting fire to the market, killing lots of livestock and wounding many people, mostly cattle dealers.”
Although no group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack, the Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO, Yobe Police Command, ASP Gbadegesin, confirmed the attack saying that the gunmen are members of Boko Haram when he was contacted by P.M NEWS.
Reports say the death toll from Wednesdays night attack is likely to climb.
“Thirty-four bodies were deposited at the hospital,” an official said.
The official added that the number of deaths was likely to be more than 50 dead because families were also burying relatives’ bodies without bringing them to the hospital.
Residents described a terrifying scene at the market usually crowded with traders, with scores of cattle burnt, the market razed and dozens of people killed. Vehicles were also said to have been burnt.
One resident said firefighters were at the scene on Thursday morning searching water wells out of fears that residents had fallen in and drowned while trying to flee.
Residents crowded a local hospital to determine if their relatives were among the dead.
“The whole market has been burnt down,” a resident said.
“Roasted remains of cattle litter the whole place … The ground has been scorched. Firefighters have arrived at the market trying to go into open wells to bring out bodies of people that fell in while trying to flee the attackers.”