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20 Killed in Cameroon Twin Suicide Bombing


Security forces transport with a blanket the remains of some of the 11 victims of a double blast in the northern Cameroonian city of Maroua, July 22, 2015.

At least 20 people were killed in northern Cameroon Wednesday in two suicide bombings that officials are blaming on Nigerian militant group Boko Haram.

The attacks happened simultaneously at a large market and a residential neighborhood in Maroua, the capital of Cameroon's Far North Region.

Ousmaila Toukour, a businessman in the market, told VOA that hundreds of people were wounded and taken to hospitals.

Cameroon’s President Paul Biya condemned the bombings on Wednesday.

Information Minister Issa Tchiroma Bakary says senior government officials went to the site of the attacks to assess the situation.

“The perpetrators were two ladies, one of them aged between 13 and 15. This is the [initial] information I have up to date,” Bakary said. “The head of state condemns this in the strongest term possible, and I am going to give a press conference maybe tomorrow or the next day when we receive the first result of the investigation, which is already [under way].”

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The governor of the region, Midjiyawa Bakari, said authorities are investigating but voiced strong suspicion that the attacks were the work of Boko Haram.

The country's information minister says a joint military task force will continue to combat and defeat the militants.

“We are dealing with invisible enemy. You do not know who Boko Haram is. When you are dealing with a girl aged between 8 and 15, you see them coming towards you, very well dressed in their traditional dress, you cannot imagine that you are dealing with Boko Haram sympathizer or militant,” said Bakary.

The attack is the second of its kind in Cameroon in the past 10 days.

On July 12, two female suicide bombers blew themselves up in Fotokol, on the border with Nigeria, killing 10 civilians and a soldier from neighboring Chad.

Cameroon last week banned the wearing of full-face veils after the Fotokol attack. The bombers were women dressed as devout Muslims.

Boko Haram has launched many attacks in Cameroon over the past two years and clashed repeatedly with Cameroon's army. Cameroon is contributing troops to a five-nation task force being set up to combat the Islamist extremist group.

VOA's Peter Clottey contributed to this report.