At least 34 people were killed on Tuesday in twin suicide bombings that rocked the northeastern Nigerian city of Maiduguri, capital of restive Borno State, witnesses have said.
"I am one of those who evacuated the corpses, some hands chopped off. Thirty-four corpses now," Mamman Garba, a member of a local vigilante group in Maiduguri, told The Anadolu Agency.
A nurse at Maiduguri's Borno State Specialist Hospital confirmed the number to AA.
"As many as 15 charred bodies were initially brought to the hospital and another 19 later," she said.
"They were brought by a [civilian-led] Joint Task Force vehicle and a National Emergency Management Agency rescue van," she added.
An AA reporter on the ground said he saw two ambulances bringing corpses to the hospital later. He expected the death toll to rise further in the next few hours.
Health ministry secretary Alhaji Ahmed Sanda, however, put the death toll at 24.
Sanda said that 24 dead people were recorded in the hospital record.
"A total of 54 injured persons were admitted in the hospital. Out of this figure, 14 who are critically injured have been referred to the University teaching hospital while 21 patients are presently on admission bed," he said.
Earlier in the day, witnesses had told AA that a bomb had gone off in the One-Way Area behind the Maiduguri International Market a few minutes before noon. Barely two minutes later, a second blast went off in the same area.
According to witnesses, a female suicide bomber was involved in one of the two explosions.
"The whole place exploded as the woman blew herself up in the middle of the crowd," Mustapha Ahmad, a resident of the area, told AA.
Neither the military, the police nor Nigeria's disaster management agency have commented on the blast, which comes as President Goodluck Jonathan seeks to extend emergency rule in the northeastern states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe, which have been the most severely affected by the Boko Haram insurgency.
The Nigerian Senate is expected to vote on the president's request later Tuesday, although the lower house of parliament has declined the request, asking that the president deploy troops to combat the militant group.
The last bombing to hit Maiduguri, in which at least 21 people were killed, occurred on July 1 near the same market.
Last week, a joint force of soldiers and vigilantes stepped up their stop-and-search routine in the town following what military sources described as "intelligence" that militants were planning an attack.