At least 82 people were killed on Wednesday in two suicide bombings in the northern Nigerian city of Kaduna, one aimed at opposition leader and former president Muhammadu Buhari and another at a moderate Muslim cleric about to lead a crowd in prayer, Reuters reported.
The attacks bore the hallmarks of militant Islamist group Boko Haram, but it may also have been linked to politics before the 2015 elections, the report said.
In the deadliest attack, a bomber drove a car full of explosives towards Buhari’s convoy at the crowded Kawo market, police said. A Red Cross official said at least 50 people were killed.
Buhari, who was riding an armor-plated sport utility vehicle, was not wounded. He was the main opposition candidate against President Goodluck Jonathan in the 2011 election, and remains a key opposition figure.
Earlier, a suicide bomber on foot, targeting a moderate cleric, killed at least 32 of his congregation on a busy commercial road.
Thousands were gathered for prayers with Sheikh Dahiru Bauchi in the Murtala Muhammed square. When his convoy pulled up, the bomber lunged at him before being stopped by his private security, witnesses and police commissioner Shehu Umar Ambursa told Reuters. Bauchi was not injured.
In a statement, the President Jonathan called the bombings “an odious attempt to inflame passions and exacerbate disquiet, fear, insecurity and sectional divisions in the country”. Kaduna governor Mukhtar Yero has declared a 24-hour curfew in the city until further notice.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for either blast, although Boko Haram has been staging attacks near the city for the past three months, the report said.
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