2 suicide bombers attempt New Year attacks in Nigerian city of Gombe, witnesses say

Story highlights

  • Several people are injured when a suicide bomber blows himself up outside a church
  • He detonated his device after he was prevented from getting closer to the church
  • Hours earlier, a female bomber was killed outside a military barracks, witnesses say
  • Soldiers fired when she refused to stop for a search and her explosives detonated
Several people were injured when a suicide bomber blew himself up outside a church in the northeastern Nigerian city of Gombe on New Year's Day, residents and a rescue worker said.
It came only hours after a female suicide bomber was killed outside the Bolari military barracks, also in Gombe, on New Year's Eve, witnesses said.
The male bomber, who was on a motorcycle, struck outside an evangelical church in the Tudun Wada area of the city at about 9 a.m. local time, as worshipers attended a New Year service.
The explosives strapped to his body detonated as he was having a heated argument with church volunteers who had set up a barricade some distance from the church to screen people and prevent any attack by the Islamist militant group Boko Haram, according to Samson Luka, an eyewitness.
"Some people nearby were injured from the blast but none of the injuries are life-threatening," Luka said.
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A Nigerian Red Cross official in the city confirmed an "explosion by a suicide bomber" outside the church in which some worshipers were hurt.
The botched bombing was the first violence this year to hit a region that has been wracked by a five-year deadly uprising by Boko Haram militants.
The explosion terrified residents, who rushed from their homes into the street in fear.
"The moment I heard the huge blast my mind told me it was a bomb and I dashed out of my house only to learn it was from a suicide bomber outside the church," said resident Hauwa Ahmed.
There was no immediate comment from authorities on the blast.
In the incident Wednesday evening, soldiers opened fire on the woman when she refused to stop for a search, triggering an explosion of the suicide belt she was wearing under her veil, according to witnesses.
The woman ignored orders by soldiers on guard at the gates of the military barracks ‎to stop at a distance for screening and instead strode toward them, said resident Adamu Kuntau, in an account supported by other residents.
"The soldiers opened fire on the woman and the suicide belt concealed under her hijab exploded, killing her," Kuntau said.
Security at the barracks has been reinforced since last June, when a female suicide bomber blew herself up when she was stopped outside the barracks for screening, killing one soldier and injuring another.