DAKAR, Senegal (AP) – A triple suicide bombing Saturday at a market on an island in Lake Chad killed at least 15 people and injured 130, Chad’s government said. A top police official blamed the carnage on Nigeria’s Islamic extremist group Boko Haram.
The three explosions on Koulfoua were carried out by females, said Chad police spokesman Paul Manga.
Police, military and local officials had earlier said at least 27 people were killed and 90 injured. The government on national radio later said at least 19 died, including four attackers, in three explosions. It said a medical team has rushed to the scene.
The Lake Chad region, which straddles the borders of Chad, Cameroon, Niger and Nigeria, has been regularly targeted by the extremists. Chad’s government imposed a state of emergency in the area in November.
Chad’s director general of the gendarmerie, Gen. Banyaman Cossingar, said Boko Haram was suspected in Saturday’s attacks.
Two suicide bombings, also by women, killed at least three people in November in Ngouboua village near Lake Chad. Five coordinated suicide bombings in October killed at least 36 people and wounded 50 others in the western village of Baga Sola near Lake Chad that is home to thousands of Nigerians who have fled the extremists’ violence.
Boko Haram’s six-year uprising has killed some 20,000 people.
This year, the Nigerian militants have expanded attacks into Cameroon, Chad and Niger, countries contributing troops to a regional force formed to wipe out the extremists. Forces from Nigeria and neighboring Chad earlier this year drove the extremists out of cities and towns in northeastern Nigeria where they had proclaimed an Islamic caliphate.
Last week, troops from Cameroon, Nigeria, Chad and Benin had launched operations in the Lake Chad region and the Sambisa Forest, arresting 100 militants, killing 100 others and freeing 900 hostages, according to Cameroon’s government.
The bombings in Chad come as Nigeria’s intelligence agency says it has arrested nine alleged Boko Haram extremists plotting attacks on Abuja, the capital, over the holiday season. Saturday’s statement follows a warning Friday from the U.S. Embassy that extremists may be planning attacks on hotels favored by Westerners.
One of the nine men arrested was carrying out surveillance of a “high-profile hotel,” Nigeria’s Department of State Security said. It said all nine were detained in the past month and had infiltrated Abuja, the capital in central Nigeria, from the country’s northeastern area where most extremist attacks occur.
AP writer Michelle Faul contributed to this story from Lagos, Nigeria.
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