Gombe and Kano states, Nigeria
Gombe and Kano states, Nigeria

ABUJA - Car bomb kills at least 10 at bus stop in northeast Nigeria@

           * Blast near end of morning rush hour; several wounded

           * Witness says death count may climb

           * Violence up since government announced ceasefire

  (Adds refugees from Mubi, emergency coordinator, Mubi witness)

           By Isaac Abrak

           ABUJA, Oct 31 (Reuters) - A car bomb killed at least 10 people at a crowded bus stop in the northeast Nigerian city of Gombe on Friday morning, emergency services said.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the blast, but Islamist group Boko Haram has been blamed for a string of bomb attacks in the region this year.

People continued to flee on Friday from the northeastern town of Mubi, captured and ransacked by Boko Haram this week.

Witness Godfrey Anebo told Reuters he saw emergency workers pull eight people from the wreckage in Gombe, all of whom appeared to be dead.

“I am not sure what the death toll will be at the end but it will shoot up very high because the bus stop was very full of commuters,” Anebo said.

An emergency services official at the scene told Reuters at least 10 people had died and several were wounded. The military did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The government announced a cease-fire with Boko Haram nearly two weeks ago as part of efforts to negotiate the release of more than 200 schoolgirls kidnapped by the group in April.

But violence has intensified since, further denting public confidence in the government's efforts to end the conflict.

Boko Haram has killed thousands of people and abducted hundreds since launching its uprising in Africa's largest oil producer in 2009.

Thousands flee Boko Haram

The militants, who want an Islamic state in the region, seized control of Mubi on Wednesday and Thursday, robbing banks, burning down houses, hoisting their black flag over the Emir's palace, killing dozens of people and forcing thousands to flee.

Coordinator for the Emergency Management Agency in Adamawa state Haruna Furo told Reuters more than 5,000 refugees had fled Mubi to the state capital Yola, adding to the already 4,000 internal refugees located there in two camps.

“The problem we are facing now is lack of toilet facilities, the few toilets we built cannot accommodate the high number of people we are registering every day in the two camps,'' he said, raising the risk of diseases like cholera from poor sanitation.

Emeka Chris Ugo, a Christian motor parts dealer, fled Mubi on Wednesday when the fighting started and trekked with his wife and three children for 150 kilometers.

“I will never visit Adamawa again. What I witnessed in 1967 is about to happen again,'' he said, referring to the Biafra civil war between secessionists in southeast Nigeria that left more than a million dead before it ended in 1970.

The government has said criminal groups caught up in the insurgency are behind some of the recent violence. Since Boko Haram itself is highly fragmented it is impossible to guarantee all factions will respect the cease-fire.

Suspected insurgents killed at least 17 people and abducted dozens last weekend in a series of attacks in the center of Borno state, epicenter of the insurgency, officials said. At least 25 girls were kidnapped from a remote northeastern town a few days earlier.