16 dead, many critically wounded in Chibok, Nigeria

LAGOS, Nigeria -- Multiple suicide bombings have killed 15 civilians and a soldier and the toll is expected to rise among those critically wounded in Chibok, community leaders said Thursday in the town from which Boko Haram kidnapped scores of schoolgirls almost two years ago.

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Many wounded people suffered severe burns and are "battling for their lives" after Wednesday's attack, Dr. Idrissa Danladi told The Associated Press by telephone.

Ten people were evacuated for better medical care on Wednesday but the town's small hospital still is overwhelmed, he said. "People are trying to help with donations, but there's a shortage of blood," he said.

Residents blamed Boko Haram, the Islamic extremist group that kidnapped nearly 300 schoolgirls in April 2014. Dozens escaped but 219 remain missing. The militants have turned to suicide bombings of soft targets since troops last year forced them out of towns and villages.

The 16 victims were buried Wednesday, said Pogu Bitrus, head of the Chibok Development Association.

He said six male and female suicide bombers entered the northeast Nigerian town on Wednesday, when people gather for the weekly vegetable market.

The first blast came when a man blew himself up at a military checkpoint. A soldier was injured and later died, Bitrus said.

That explosion raised the suspicions of the military commander. He rushed to the market to warn people to disperse but, as he arrived, a woman about to be searched blew herself up, Bitrus said. Several people died and the commander was wounded.

Other explosions followed swiftly, of veiled women who had already sneaked into the market. Bitrus said there were a total of three explosions. Other witnesses said there were five.

The plight of the kidnapped girls attracted international outrage.



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