Suicide bomber blew herself up inside Nigeria mosque while partner waited outside for escaping survivors

, Nigeria — Two female suicide bombers killed at least 22 worshippers in an attack during dawn prayers Wednesday on a mosque on the outskirts of the northeast Nigerian city of , rescue officials said from the birthplace of .

One bomber blew up inside the mosque and the second waited outside to detonate as survivors tried to escape, said co-ordinator Abba Aji of the civilian self-defence Vigilante Group.

At least 17 people were wounded and evacuated to the hospital, said Abdul Mohammed of the State Emergency Management Agency.

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Umar Usman said he escaped because he was late. “We were just a few meters away from the mosque when a loud bang erupted and all we could see was dark smoke and bodies littered around,” he told The Associated Press.

The mosque is in the Boko Haram stronghold of Umarari on the outskirts of the city that is the command centre of the Nigerian military’s war against Boko Haram Islamic insurgents. Several suicide bombers have exploded in recent months at roadblocks leading into the city manned by the military and vigilantes, indicating success in preventing attackers from reaching crowded areas.

It is the first attack on Maiduguri since Dec. 28, when Boko Haram attacked with rocket-propelled grenades and multiple suicide bombers, killing at least 50 people.

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