Suicide bombers hit Maiduguri mosque, kill eight

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  • As Jordanian Soldier Gets Life in Prison for Killing Three U.S. Troops

Eight people were killed on Monday when a female suicide bomber detonated her explosives at a mosque in northeast Nigeria, in the latest attack in the restive region.

The head of the Borno state emergency management agency, Ahmed Satomi, said the blast happened at about 5:30 am (0430 GMT) in the London Ciki area of Maiduguri, which has been at the epicentre of Boko Haram violence since 2009.

“She killed eight people and injured 15 others. The mosque was being guarded by civilian JTF (joint task force militia) during prayers,” he told AFP.

“Unknown to them, the girl was being pursued from another part of town by residents who were suspicious of her movement at the time.

“When she approached the mosque, they demanded that she stop to be searched but she suddenly bolted into the mosque and set off her bombs.”

Three other female suicide bombers were located in Maiduguri at about the same time, said Satomi.

Two were killed in the Mammanti area as they tried to cross the ditch around the city perimeter while another set off her explosives in the suburb of Simari, he added.

It is the second time in a week that four female suicide bombers have sought to cause carnage in Maiduguri.

Last Monday, at least 19 people were killed and 23 others injured when four women set off their bombs in the Molai Kolemari area of the city.

Boko Haram has increasingly used women and young girls as human bombs as they have been forced out of captured territory due to a sustained military counter-insurgency.

Maiduguri has been repeatedly attacked in recent months, with mosques, markets, camps for those displaced by the conflict and other civilian “soft” targets hit regularly.

In the meantime, a military court convicted a Jordanian soldier Monday of killing three U.S. military trainers at a Jordanian air base and sentenced him to life in prison with hard labor.

The defendant, who had pleaded “not guilty,” has said he opened fire because he feared the base was coming under attack.

As he was led out of the courtroom, 1st Sgt. Marik al-Tuwayha said: “I have all the respect for the king, but I was doing my job.”

The parents of one of the slain U.S. soldiers and the father and sister of another sat quietly as the judge announced his ruling to a crowded court.

Jim Moriarty, the father of one of the soldiers, wrote later Monday in a letter to the Jordanian Embassy in the United States that the “successful prosecution” was a “good first step, but it is only the first step.”

In the letter given to The Associated Press, Moriarty listed several demands to Jordan, including allowing the defendant to be re-interviewed by the FBI about his motive and releasing security camera footage of the shooting that he said was entered into the trial records.

Some of the relatives have criticized Jordan’s handling of the case and called for the death penalty, saying the maximum possible sentence in this case, of life in prison, was inadequate.

The three U.S. Army Green Berets were killed Nov. 4, as their convoy waited at the gate to the al-Jafr base in southern Jordan. Jordan initially said the Americans triggered the shooting by disobeying entry rules, a claim that was later withdrawn.

The trial “confirmed that the deceased U.S. service members followed all established procedures when accessing the base the day of the incident, as we have noted before,” the U.S. Embassy in Jordan said in a statement. “We are reassured to see the perpetrator brought to justice.”

The victims were 27-year-old Staff Sgt. Matthew C. Lewellen of Kirksville, Missouri; 30-year-old Staff Sgt. Kevin J. McEnroe of Tucson, Arizona; and 27-year-old Staff Sgt. James F. Moriarty of Kerrville, Texas.

Jordan is a member of a U.S.-led military coalition against Islamic State extremists in neighboring Syria and Iraq. Jordan hosts troops, including trainers, from the U.S. and other countries as part of the anti-IS battle.

The military court judge, Col. Mohammed al-Afeef, said at the start of the trial that the defendant had no known ties to militant groups.

This left questions about a possible motive.

The defendant and some of the gate guards testified that they heard what might have been a pistol shot coming from the direction of the U.S. convoy. The defendant said he opened fire because he feared the base was coming under attack. Other guards said they held their fire because they couldn’t determine the source of the sound.

The defendant has said he had “no intention of killing anyone” and felt no resentment toward Americans.

However, security camera footage, as described by the bereaved relatives, shows the shooting lasted for six minutes. They have said the video shows the defendant reloading and shooting at Americans who were waving their hands and yelling: “We’re Americans! We’re friendly.”

In Jordan, life in prison can mean 20 years, with time off for good behavior.

Punch with additional report from NBC

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