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Dozens dead after gunmen set Nigeria's Potiskum cattle market alight

An attack on a cattle market in north-eastern Nigeria by gunmen armed with explosives has left dozens dead, with the toll likely to climb.

Nigeria cattleEnlarge
A young herdsman leads cattle to a farm in northern Nigeria's Kano state. (PIUS UTOMI EKPEI/AFP/Getty Images)

An attack on a cattle market in north-eastern Nigeria by gunmen armed with explosives has left dozens of people dead, with the toll likely to climb, emergency officials said Thursday.

As of late Thursday, Reuters has confirmed that at least 60 people died in the attack with scores more injured.

A hospital nurse told the news agency that she had counted 56 bodies.

The market in Potiskum, Yobe state, was set on fire and razed to the ground during the attack late Wednesday, which police say may have been in revenge for the killing by traders of a man who had earlier tried to steal cattle, according to the BBC.

Boko Haram, a violent Islamist group is also suspected, yet no group has claimed responsibility.

"Everybody knows the modus operandi of BH (Boko Haram): they threw explosives and used guns," a local police official said, according to Reuters.

"The gunfire lasted for almost an hour."

Residents told the BBC that the gunmen locked the gates of the fenced cattle market, trapping many traders and livestock inside.

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An emergency source told the Agence France Presse that “34 bodies were deposited at the hospital,” with the toll like to rise to over 50 as some families are burying relatives’ bodies without bringing them to the hospital.

Many animals were also burned to death.

The radical Islamist sect Boko Haram has carried out scores of attacks in north-eastern Nigeria, including in Potiskum, but criminal gangs have also committed violence under the guise of the group, often seeking to provoke panic at markets and force traders to flee so they can steal their wares, according to The Daily Telegraph.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/africa/nigeria/120503/gunmen-set-nigeria-potiskum-cattle-market-alight