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More than 30 dead in market blasts

At least 30 people have died after two female suicide bombers blew themselves up in a crowded market in Nigeria's north-eastern city of Maiduguri, security officials said.

The two teenage girls dressed in full hijabs entered the busy market and detonated their explosives, said Abba Aji Kalli, the Borno state coordinator of the civilian joint task force.

The first set off her explosives and killed about three women. When others gathered around the scene, the second bomber screamed and blew herself up, killing about 30 people, Mr Kalli added.

He said: "I am right here at the scene and I have before me 11 corpses ... many have been taken away by relatives, while others are taken to the state specialists' hospital."

Soldiers and police officers cordoned off the area while rescue workers helped take survivors to hospital. Nigerian police have not yet commented on the matter.

Nigeria's Islamic militant rebel group, Boko Haram, is suspected of the suicide blasts, as they have carried out many similar violent acts in north-eastern Nigeria.

More than 1,500 people have died so far this year in the extremists' insurgency, which has been going on for five years, according to Amnesty International.

The blast is the first in Maiduguri since July 2 when 56 people were killed in the same market area when a car bomb hit a group of traders and shoppers.

Maiduguri is the provincial capital and largest city in Borno state, one of the three states in north-eastern Nigeria that are under a state of emergency because of the extremist violence.

In April, Boko Haram kidnapped more than 200 schoolgirls from Chibok, about 78 miles south-west of Maiduguri.

The schoolgirls are still missing and their plight has aroused international concern and prompted the #BringBackOurGirls social media campaign.

Last month, the girls' parents were encouraged when the Nigerian military announced a cease-fire with Boko Haram and said negotiations had begun for the release of the schoolgirls.

Those hopes were quickly dashed when Boko Haram fighters continued attacks and seized several cities and towns across the north-east.

In a video statement, Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau denied the ceasefire and scoffed at claims of negotiations to release the schoolgirls.

Boko Haram still holds many centres in an area covering an estimated 7,700 square miles and have declared the area to be an Islamic caliphate.

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