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Blast Hits Nigeria Refugee Camp


FILE - People gather at a tap in the Malkohi camp for internally displaced people as they collect water in Yola, Nigeria.

FILE - People gather at a tap in the Malkohi camp for internally displaced people as they collect water in Yola, Nigeria.

A bomb exploded Friday in a camp for people internally displaced by Nigeria’s Boko Haram insurgency, killing at least seven people and wounding 20 others. An official called it the first-ever attack on a Nigerian Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp.

The blast at the Malkohi camp outside of the northeast city of Yola went off at about 10:50 a.m. local time. Sani Datti, senior information officer for the National Emergency Management Agency, said it was "a bomb planted inside a tent in the camps near a stove, inside the IDP camps.”

Malkohi camp was one of several in the Yola area that housed people fleeing the Islamist Boko Haram insurgency, which has ravaged three northeastern states and forced 2.1 million people to move elsewhere in the country.

In April, women and children rescued from the group in the Sambisa Forest, a Boko Haram stronghold, were brought to the camp. Datti said that group has since moved on, and the camp is now being used as a transit point for refugees who were returning to Nigeria from neighboring Cameroon.

Boko Haram has been fighting for six years to impose strict Islamic law in northern Nigeria. It has repeatedly attacked bus stations, markets, mosques and churches, killing thousands.

But Datti said an attack of this kind on a displaced persons camp has never happened before.

“This is the first time," said Datti. "We never had experienced it. This is the first time.”

There was no claim of responsibility for the blast, but it bears the hallmarks of Boko Haram.

President Muhammadu Buhari has vowed to eliminate the extremist group but Boko Haram has killed more than 700 people since he took office in May.

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