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Dec 11, 4:48 AM EST

2 suicide bombers die in blasts near market in Nigerian city

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MAIDUGURI, Nigeria (AP) -- Two suicide bombers died when they exploded Sunday in a crowded area near a market in Nigeria's northeastern city of Maiduguri, injuring 17 people, rescue officials said.

Survivor Abubakar Musa said he also saw among the victims the bodies of soldiers, who were guarding a nearby electric power installation.

A male and female suicide bomber detonated themselves minutes apart, spokesman Sani Datti of the National Emergency Management Agency said of the attack blamed on the Boko Haram Islamic extremist group. It birthplace is Maiduguri.

The blasts occurred near Maiduguri's Monday Market, just weeks after the state government ordered the reopening of all roads leading to the market. They have been closed for nearly two years over security concerns following previous bombings at the market that killed dozens of people.

On Friday, two women suicide bombers exploded in a market at Madagali, 150 kilometers (95 miles) southeast of Maiduguri, killing 57 people and wounding 177 including 120 children.

Since Nigeria's military has dislodged insurgents from towns and villages this year, Boko Haram has been attacking soft targets.

Suicide bombings and attacks on military camps continue, though Nigeria's government claims it has the insurgents on the run. President Muhammadu Buhari declared the Islamic uprising "technically defeated" a year ago. On Friday, he vowed Nigeria's military is working "at slamming the final nail in the coffin of Boko Haram."

The seven-year insurgency has killed more than 20,000 people, forced 2.6 million from their homes and created a massive humanitarian crisis.

Boko Haram, which has one branch allied to the Islamic State group, wants to install an Islamic state in Nigeria, West Africa's oil giant of 170 million people divided almost equally between a mainly Christian south and predominantly Muslim north.


Faul contributed from Lagos, Nigeria.

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