MAIDUGURI., Nigeria, Dec. 12 (UPI) -- Explosions at a market in Maiduguri, Nigeria, that killed at least one person are believed to have been caused by young girls acting as suicide bombers, officials said.
The two loud detonations occurred Sunday morning in a crowded area near the city's main market. At least 17 people were injured, with "different degrees of injuries," Bello Dambata of the Nigeria Emergency Management Agency said. He added: "The mutilated bodies of two suicide bombers were also evacuated."
A local militia member, Abdulkarim Jabo, said he thought the girls were each about seven or eight years old, commenting, "They got out of a rickshaw and walked right in front of me without showing the slightest sign of emotion. I tried to speak with one of them, in Hausa and in English, but she didn't answer. I thought they were looking for their mother. She headed toward the poultry sellers, then detonated her explosives belt."
The second blast came as onlookers hurried to help the injured in the busy market. Soldiers guarding a nearby electrical power installation were among the injured.
Although no organization immediately claimed responsibility for the incident, the insurgent Islamist group Boko Haram still maintains a presence in Borno state, which includes Maiduguri. It often uses children as suicide bombers. The Nigerian government, as well a multinational force, has been fighting Boko Haram since 2009. At least 20,000 people have been killed and more than 2.5 million people have attempted to escape the fighting.
At least 45 people died Friday in a similar bomb attack on a market in Madagali, about 95 miles from Maiduguri.