Two suicide bombers struck a crowded market in the northeastern Nigerian city of Yola on Thursday while pretending to fight each other, killing at least 31 people, according to emergency officials and police.
The assailants, with explosives strapped to their bodies, faked a scuffle in order to attract more spectators that they could target at the Jimeta Main Market in the Adamawa state capital, said police spokesperson Othman Abubakar.
The staged fight between the two men "attracted the attention of people nearby to see what was happening," he told Agence France-Presse.
Another 38 victims, some with serious injuries, are being treated in hospitals, said Sa'ad Bello of the National Emergency Management Agency.
"I can see blood splattered everywhere, including my car, but I can't give any detail because we are all running," bread seller Ayuba Dan Mallam said shortly after Thursday night's blast.
The explosion was timed to go off as merchants were closing shop, others were hurrying to make last-minute purchases and commuters were catching tricycle taxis home.
Deputy Police Superintendent Othman Abubakar blamed Boko Haram and said two suicide bombers were among 31 corpses recovered from the scene.
It is the first such attack on Yola, which has seen its population double by some 300,000 refugees fleeing the insurgent violence in the northeast that has killed some 13,000 people and forced 1.5 million from their homes. The hospitals treating victims of Thursday's blasts were already swollen with refugees from the conflict, Bello said.
Boko Haram has been fighting for nearly six years to impose its radical version of Islamic law across Nigeria. Half the population of 170 million is Christian.
Just hours before Thursday’s attack, eight soldiers were killed by a suicide car bomb at a checkpoint outside a military barracks in Maiduguri, the biggest city in the northeast some 255 miles northeast of Yola.
Boko Haram has stepped up attacks after a months-long lull during which a multinational force drove the group from towns where it had declared an Islamic caliphate.
More than 60 people have been killed since the weekend in Maiduguri, the birthplace of Boko Haram. Daily attacks started after President Muhammadu Buhari declared at his inauguration on May 29 that he is moving the command center for the war from Abuja, the capital in central Nigeria, to Maiduguri.