No one has claimed responsibility for the attack, but it bore the hallmarks of the Islamist group Boko Haram, which has been trying to carve out a state in the country`s northeast since 2009.
“A suspected Boko Haram suicide bomber detonated IEDs (improvised explosive devices) at a mosque in Ajilari and some insurgents also threw IEDs at a viewing centre. Total casualty figure is now 85,” Victor Isuku, a police spokesman in Maiduguri, said.
A Nigerian army spokesman said on Sunday that three bombs had gone off. Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state, is the birthplace of the Boko Haram insurgency, which that has killed thousands and displaced 2.1 million people. The city has been free of attack for about a month. It was last hit by a bomb at the end of July and there was a skirmish with suspected Boko Haram militants on the outskirts in mid-August.
On Sunday evening, two bombs also went off at a checkpoint near a market in the Borno town of Monguno, three residents said on Monday. Monguno is about 135 kilometres north of Maiduguri.
“At about 9:30 p.m. (2030 GMT), the first bomb exploded. We started running and then the second bomb blasted. Later we came back to help, we evacuated 16 dead bodies to the general hospital in Monguno and 28 injured,” said Bukar Lawal, a resident of the town who was near the first blast. He also helped transport some of the injured to Maiduguri.
Mohammadu Hafis, another resident who also helped move the wounded, said 16 died on the spot and another two on Monday. After President Muhammadu Buhari`s inauguration, attacks rose across northern Nigeria and Maiduguri was hit on a near weekly basis.
A new offensive launched by the Nigerian army to clear Boko Haram out of more towns over the last month saw a sharp drop in the frequency of attacks in Borno, the worst affected by the insurrection, and neighbouring states.