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Many feared dead after bomb blasts rock northern Nigeria

Deadly bomb blasts have rocked a marketplace in the capital of Nigeria's northern Borno state. Nigeria is battling a bloody Islamic insurgency, which has escalated over the past month.

Two bombs exploded at a crowded marketplace in the northern Nigerian city of Maiduguri on Saturday, with witnesses telling the Reuters news agency that at least 10 people were killed.

The second bomb blast reportedly targeted people trying to help the victims of the first explosion. Nobody has claimed responsibility for the attack, the first in months to target Maiduguri, the birthplace of the Islamist militant group Boko Haram.

"Many men, women and children died," local resident Ismaila Abdulraman told Reuters by telephone. "The fire service are on the ground now and they are bringing corpses of people and trying to put out the fire at the scene."

Boko Haram has launched a spree of bloody attacks over the past few weeks, killing more than 300 people during February alone. The Islamist militant group wants to impose Shariah law in Nigeria.

'Impossible to defeat Boko Haram'

Last May, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan launched an aggressive military campaign against Boko Haram, placing three northeastern states under emergency rule. The military has launched airstrikes against suspected militant hideouts. One of those airstrikes allegedly killed 20 civilians in the village of Daglun last Friday.

The governor of Borno state, Kashim Shettima, has said that the government is losing the war against Boko Haram. The Islamist militant group is "better armed and better motivated," Shettima said.

"Given the present state affairs, it is absolutely impossible for us to defeat Boko Haram," the governor continued.

According to the UN, nearly 300,000 people have fled their homes in northeast Nigeria since the military offensive began last May.

Nigeria's 170 million people are 40 percent Christian and 50 percent Muslim. The rest of the population practices indigenous beliefs.

Christians predominantly live in the south, while Muslims mostly live in the north.

slk/jr (AP, AFP, Reuters)