Nigerian soldiers indiscriminately fired on residents of a troubled northern city Monday, killing several, while also burning homes and shops after a bomb blast targetted an army patrol, witnesses said.
“Initially, soldiers that came after the explosion harassed residents, whipping them,” said one resident of the city of Maiduguri.
“But later they went on a shooting spree and started setting homes and shops on fire,” he added, putting the number of dead at about 30.
Another resident, who did not give an estimate of the death toll, said, “soldiers came into the neighbourhood and started attacking people, shooting everybody in sight.”
The blast early Monday that targetted an army patrol vehicle in the city injured two soldiers, said the military spokesman in the area, Lieutenant Colonel Sagir Musa.
Rights groups have previously accused the military of using brutal tactics when responding to attacks on their personnel.
Asked about the latest allegations, Musa said, “I don’t have any comment.”
Maiduguri is considered the home base of Boko Haram Islamists, blamed for killing more than 1,400 people since 2010 in an insurgency in northern and central areas of Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country.