January 13, 2015 / 9:04 PM / 3 years ago

Suicide bomber kills two, wounds 14 at mosque in northeastern Nigeria

ABUJA/BAUCHI (Reuters) - A suicide bomber blew himself up outside a mosque in the northeastern Nigerian city of Gombe on Tuesday, killing at least two other people and wounding 14 during prayers, a Red Cross official and witnesses said.

Gombe is just outside the main area of operations of Boko Haram, a violent jihadist group trying to carve out an Islamic state in northern Nigeria, and has been attacked several times in the last few months.

"We were holding prayers when we heard a loud explosion," witness Musa Usman told Reuters by phone.

"We rushed out of the mosque. There were so many people injured on the ground."

There was no immediate claim of responsibility.Growing insecurity linked to Islamist militants is a major problem for President Goodluck Jonathan a month before polls in which he faces a rival, Muhammadu Buhari, seen as tough on security when he was a military ruler in the 1980s.

The U.S. State Department said on Tuesday it believes the Feb. 14 election in Nigeria is a factor behind the sharp increase in attacks by Boko Haram, a group which has killed thousands since launching an uprising five years ago.

Red Cross official Umar Ahmed, who was on the scene of the blast, said the bomber and two other people were killed. An official at the hospital to where the casualties were brought, Ibrahim Garba, said the emergency ward was treating 14 people for blast wounds. Some were in critical condition, he said.

Reporting by Isaac Abrak in; Writing by Tim Cocks; Editing by Louise Ireland and James Dalgleish

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