MAIDUGURI, Nigeria – Three bomb blasts in as many minutes exploded in Maiduguri, killing at least seven people, witnesses and the army said Wednesday from the northeastern city that is the birthplace of the Boko Haram Islamic extremist group.
The third attack in recent weeks on the densely populated suburb of Anilari-Cross came Tuesday night as residents exhausted by daytime temperatures that soared to 39 degrees Celsius (over 100 degrees Fahrenheit) were coming out of stuffy homes to enjoy the evening breeze.
"We had to rush into the house," said resident Abubakar Sadiq. He said the three explosions were followed by gunfire.
Civilian self-defense fighter Abbas Gava said a dozen people were killed and wounded in three suicide bombings. Army spokesman Col. Sani Usman said seven people were killed in what appeared to be suicide bombings staged by Boko Haram.
Also Tuesday, soldiers attacked militants believed responsible for an attack last week on a military camp in Geidam town, also in Borno state, Usman said. The soldiers killed 10 insurgents and captured an anti-aircraft gun, rifles and submachine guns as well as an all-terrain vehicle, he said.
"The noose is tightening around the terrorists," Nigeria's Defense Headquarters tweeted this week. "We will continue the momentum until terrorists are extinct in Nigeria."
Hopes were high earlier this year when Chadian troops helped the Nigerians to drive Boko Haram out of a large swath of northeast Nigeria which it had declared an Islamic caliphate.
But the insurgents have reverted to suicide bombings and hit-and-run raids and staged increasingly frequent and deadly attacks across borders into three neighboring states since President Muhammadu Buhari was elected in March, promising to crush the 6-year-old uprising that Amnesty International estimates has killed 20,000 people.
An offensive by a multinational army has been long delayed by funding and disputes..