Two suicide bombers yesterday targeted worshipers at a church in Maiduguri, Nigeria, but were stopped at a checkpoint by security forces, according to local media.
One female bomber blew herself up, killing a male who was also wearing explosive devices.
A second female was arrested at the scene.
Worshipers were gathered at the Saint Hilary Catholic Church for early morning mass on Friday, not far from the home of the Catholic Bishop of Maiduguri Diocese.
A security source told Nigeria’s leading newspaper The Nation that the bombers were “heading for the church”.
“We heard a loud bang which shook our entire building,” one of the priests of the church said.
“I thought we were under a Boko Haram attack until I later found out it was suicide bombers that exploded at the check point.”
Borno State police spokesperson Victor Isuku confirmed the incident.
“By 3:50am today, mobile police personnel on guard duty opposite the federal high court, sighted three suspected suicide bombers (two females and a male) running towards their sandbag. They ordered them to a halt for questioning,” he said.
“In the process, one of them detonated the IED strapped to her body, killing herself and one other male accomplice. The other female survivor was arrested alive and subsequently handed over to the military for further exploitation and necessary follow up actions.”
Isuku said police detonated unexploded IEDs on the bodies of the deceased, and had restored order to the area.
Borno state has been a particular target of Boko Haram – an Islamist militant group that has been active since 2009.
A report in 2013 stated that at least 100,000 Catholics had been displaced in the Diocese of Maiduguri as a result of the militants, and more than 350 churches attacked. On Tuesday, the UN warned that 75,000 children are at risk of dying within “a few months” due to a famine caused by Boko Haram’s insurgency.
Upon his election last year, President Muhammadu Buhari pledged to stamp out the terrorist group but has as yet failed to do so.
Some territory has been reclaimed from the group, but an estimated 2.6 million people remain displaced and more than 20,000 people have been killed.