KANO, Nigeria — A suicide bomber in a car rammed into a military patrol Sunday in the northeastern Nigerian city of Damaturu, killing himself, at least six soldiers and a civilian, authorities said.
“He detonated the bomb he was carrying in his car, killing himself. Six soldiers were also killed, nine others were injured and are in hospital,” Patrick Egbuniwe, the Yobe state police commissioner, said.
“One civilian was killed and another one injured,” he added.
A statement purportedly from a spokesman for Boko Haram group claimed responsibility for the attack, saying the bomber detonated the explosives when soldiers tried to stop him at a checkpoint.
Egbuniwe said the bomber was being chased by a military patrol vehicle and the driver detonated the bomb and blew himself up when soldiers closed in on him.
A security source said the attacker rammed into a multiple vehicle military convoy, affecting two of the vehicles.
Damaturu is the capital of Yobe state, which has been hard hit by attacks blamed on Boko Haram.
Sunday’s attack follows a suicide bomber’s attempt to assassinate Yobe state’s top traditional Muslim leader, the Emir of Fika, Friday.
The bomber sought to approach the emir after Friday prayers in the city of Potiskum but was pushed away. He blew himself up and wounded a number of others.
Authorities have been carrying out raids since the attempted attack in a bid to arrest suspected members of Boko Haram, which has claimed to be fighting for the creation of an Islamic state in Nigeria’s mainly Muslim north.
The group is thought to include various factions with differing aims, however, and demands have repeatedly shifted.
Meanwhile, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan dismissed as “blackmail” a call on him by Boko Haram leader to resign and convert to Islam.
Abubakar Shekau made the call in a video released online earlier this weekend, in which he also denounced US President Barack Obama. But on Sunday, Jonathan’s spokesman Reuben Abati dismissed the call. “When Nigerians voted overwhelmingly for President Jonathan in the 2011 general election, they knew they were voting for a Christian...,” he told reporters.
“As president, Jonathan is the leader of both Muslims and Christians. It amounts to sheer blackmail for any individual or group to ask the president ... to convert to Islam,” Abati added.
“The president cannot be intimidated by any group or individual. The president will never resign. Nobody should imagine that he will succumb to blackmail”.
In the video, which was released Saturday, Shekau told the president: “(Y)ou should abandon this ungodly power, you should repent and forsake Christianity...”.
Shekau, who was speaking in the Hausa language, also criticized Obama over Washington’s decision to label him a “global terrorist”.
It was unclear when the video was made, but it marks the first time Shekau has publicly addressed the terrorist designation that the United States gave him in June.
The clip, posted on YouTube, is more than 38 minutes long. While it could not be independently verified as authentic, it was similar to previous videos of Shekau.
Addressing Obama, Shekau said: “You said I’m a global terrorist, then you are a terrorist in the next world.” — AFP