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31 people killed, 72 injured in Nigerian bomb blast

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Posted at 9:24 AM, Nov 18, 2015
and last updated 2015-11-18 13:24:49-05

LAGOS, Nigeria — At least 31 people were killed and 72 others injured in a bomb blast in the northeastern Nigerian city of Yola on Tuesday evening, according to Aliyu Maikano, a local Red Cross official. It was not clear whether the blast was from a planted device or the work of a suicide bomber, according to reports.

An official from the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Sa’ad Bello, gave a slightly higher toll of 32 dead and 80 injured, while hospital officials gave newspapers an even higher total.

The explosion ripped through the crowded Tipper Garage in the Jambutu area of the city at around 7:48 p.m., ‎shortly after evening prayers, Maikano said. The explosion came almost a month after a deadly mosque blast in the same area.

“I cannot say how many people died in the explosion, but human parts littered the place. It happened when traders were closing shop for the day,” a resident identifying himself only as Mustapha told the Nigerian newspaper, Punch.

This area houses a livestock market, an open-air restaurant and a mosque. The explosion happened as traders were leaving the mosque and others were eating at the restaurant.

Relatives of those who worked in the area converged on Specialist Hospital Yola to determine if their loved ones had been admitted, according to state-run Nigerian media.

“Since I did not see my brother who was selling sugar cane at the scene of the incident, I have no option but to come to the mortuary,” a man named Adamu told the News Agency of Nigeria.

The hospital had received 29 bodies from the explosion, chief medical director Bala Sa’id told NAN. Thirty people, including six women and eight children, had been admitted with injuries, he said.

The Yola Federal Medical Centre received 37 injured people and four bodies, spokesperson Malam Adamu Dodo said, according to NAN.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari visited Yola five days ago to present medals to soldiers fighting Boko Haram militants, as well as a camp for people displaced by the conflict. Buhari also declared that the terror organization was close to defeat, according to the Daily Independent, an Ogba-based newspaper.

During his visit, Buhari also urged soldiers “to remain vigilant, alert and focused to prevent Boko Haram from sneaking into our communities to attack soft targets,” the paper reported.

No one has yet claimed responsibility for the blast.

CNN’s Elizabeth Joseph contributed to this report.