Suspected Islamists kill 85 in northeast Nigeria
MAIDUGURI: Suspected Islamist militants have killed at least 85 people in northeastern Nigeria, witnesses and officials said on Sunday, in a further setback to President Goodluck Jonathan's military campaign.
Twin bomb blasts in the city of Maiduguri killed at least 46 people on Saturday evening while, around 50 km (30 miles) away, dozens of gunmen were razing a farming village, shooting dead another 39.
The attacks will heap pressure on Jonathan, whose intensified military push to end the Islamist sect Boko Haram's four-and-a-half-year-old insurgency has been running for almost a year.
While the bloodshed has not diminished, the army had at least had some success in confining it to remote rural areas in recent months, so that the attack on a densely populated market area in Maiduguri will be seen as a setback.
Jonathan is expected to run for re-election next year in what is expected to be a close contest.
Boko Haram, which has killed thousands in its fight for an Islamic state in northern Nigeria and become the biggest threat to security in Africa's top oil producer, is increasingly targeting the civilian population.
Western governments are concerned about Nigerian groups such as Boko Haram linking up with al Qaeda-linked cells in other countries in the Sahel region, such as Mali, where France sent troops a year ago to oust Islamist militants who had seized control.