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Updated 8:44 AM EDT, Wed, Aug 18, 2021

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54 Dead In Multiple Suicide Bombings in Nigeria

Maiduguri, Nigeria

(Photo : Reuters) People from Gwoza, Borno State, displaced by the violence and unrest caused by the insurgency, are pictured at a refugee camp in Mararaba Madagali, Adamawa State, February 18, 2014. President Goodluck Jonathan ordered extra troops into northeast Nigeria to try to crush Boko Haram, who want to carve a breakaway Islamic state out of largely Muslim northern Nigeria.

It was a bloody Saturday for Nigeria after five suicide bomb attacks hit the city of Maiduguri killing at least 54 people. 143 others were wounded. 

The bomb attacks all happened in a span of four hours in several busy and crowded locations, an indication that the attackers were aiming for a large number of casualties.

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The biggest blast happened at the busy Baga fish market when the bomber blew himself up inside a tricycle leaving 18 people dead.  A fish seller witnessed the explosion, "I saw many dead bodies lying on the ground, many dead, and several others badly injured," said Idi Idrisa.

An hour later, a second explosion rocked the Post Office shopping area just meters away from the market.  Witnesses said that blast left many, but still undetermined number of casualties.

The third bomb exploded at Monday Market, while the fourth ripped through the Borno Express bus station. 

The fifth explosion was a car bomb that rocked a military checkpoint, that left a soldier and two members of the civilian self-defense unit wounded. 

While no group has claimed responsibility over the attacks, authorities blame it on the Boko Haram extremist group. 

Maiduguri is the hometown of Boko Haram and the rebel group had been trying to regain control over the town through armed assaults and bombings.  Boko Haram was driven out of Maiduguri when Nigeria declared a state of emergency there in May 2013.

Boko Haram has increased its attacks against villages in recent weeks due to mounting pressure and offensives from Nigerian and Chadian forces. 

Chad President Idris Deby had earlier warned Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau to surrender or face death, saying Chadian military forces have already identified the rebels' hideouts. 

Witnesses who have escaped from the insurgents said, Boko Haram fighters have built a camp in the northeastern town of Gwoza, as it prepares for an all-out offensive against multinational forces. 

Nigeria had moved its February 14th presidential elections to March 28th to allow the military to focus more on its offensives against the Boko Haram group.  Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan also vowed to wipe out Boko Haram camps before the elections.

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