An explosion in a crowded market at a bridge along the Nigeria-Cameroon border left at least nine people dead and 26 injured Monday, military sources said.
The explosion sounded in the afternoon on the Nigerian side of the El Beid bridge, which separates the city of Ngala-Gamboru in Nigeria and Fotokol in Cameroon.
« Nine people were killed » according to an initial assessment, « all are Nigerian, » an officer of the Nigerian army told AFP on condition of anonymity.
Twenty-six people were also injured, including 21 Nigerians and five Cameroonians, the officer said.
The Cameroonian Defense Ministry said in a statement Tuesday morning that the wounded had been evacuated to hospitals after « the tragic incident ».
The Cameroonian government has said it is not a jihadist attack in this region plagued by violence from Boko Haram and ISWAP (Islamic State in West Africa) groups.
« The first elements of the investigation and the testimony of the survivors prove with certainty that it was not a suicide attack, » said the Cameroonian press release, signed by Commander Cyrill Atonfack.
He said the explosion was caused when two youths found a grenade and tried to sell it at the Ngala market.
« It was during this reckless manipulation that the grenade exploded, » said the Cameroonian statement.
Ngala-Gamboru, a commercial city, has been plagued by the conflict with Boko Haram since August 2014, when the group’s jihadists entered the city.
Nigerian troops had taken over the two border towns in September 2015 with the help of Chadian forces after months of fierce battles.
But jihadist fighters continue to carry out sporadic attacks in the area. Boko Haram was born in Nigeria, and fighting between the group and the army has claimed at least 35,000 lives since 2009, and has spread to neighboring Niger, Chad and Cameroon.
In recent weeks, Chad has faced several deadly attacks by the jihadist group. In mid-December, 14 people were killed and 13 reported missing in a fishing village located around the lake.
Cameroon is also facing a surge in Boko Haram attacks, according to an Amnesty International report released in December, which said 275 people, including 225 civilians, were killed in 2019.