ABUJA, NIGERIA —
Twin suicide bombings Thursday in a crowded marketplace in the north-central Nigerian city of Jos left at least 31 people dead.
Yohanna Audu, National Emergency Management Agency spokesman for the Jos area, said two cars packed with explosives detonated minutes apart near a fast-food restaurant in city's main market, which was busy with patrons buying items for the Christmas holiday.
Muhammed Tanko Yusuf, who witnessed the blast, said he rushed to the area near the Mr. Biggs restaurant and saw 11 bodies. He said that blood was all over the place and that many people were crying.
The second blast occurred about 50 meters (160 feet) away from the first, he said, killing another 20 people.
NEMA spokesman Audu said he could not give an official estimate of the number of wounded. Casualties were being taken to area hospitals, he said.
Thursday's blast was near an area in Jos where two bombs exploded in May, killing at least 118 people. That incident was blamed on the radical Islamist group Boko Haram, which has carried out shootings, bombings and kidnappings across northern Nigeria as part of its five-year quest to establish a caliphate in the area.
No one claimed responsibility for Thursday's attack, but Audu said he thought Boko Haram was behind it.
“The security agencies and emergency workers, they have cordoned off the place, and they’ve evacuated the victims of the explosion to different hospitals," he said. "And that’s what we’re doing at the moment.”
Audu said that while Boko Haram had recently deployed female suicide bombers, both of the attackers in this case were men.
Violence in the region led President Goodluck Jonathan to declare a state of emergency in three northeastern states last year. The number of attacks since then has increased sharply, in the runup to elections in February. Former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari will challenge Jonathan at the polls for a second time.
On Wednesday, suicide bombers killed at least four people at a market in Nigeria's second-largest city, Kano. Two female bombers set off explosives in the parking lot of the Kantin Kwari market, a police spokesman told VOA.
Nigeria's Daily Trust newspaper reported that at least 12 other people were injured.
Boko Haram has been blamed for a series of attacks in Kano, including the bombing of the city's central mosque late last month. That attack killed more than 80 people.