Nigeria has recently trumpeted a major victory in its battle against Boko Haram, claiming in late December that its army had routed the jihadists from their Sambisa forest stronghold in Borno state
Maiduguri (Nigeria) (AFP) - At least three people were killed and 15 injured in a suicide bomb attack claimed by Boko Haram on a university campus in northeast Nigeria, police said on Monday.
The blast happened at a mosque in the staff quarters area of the University of Maiduguri and is thought to have been carried out by a teenage girl, a local resident and a lecturer told AFP.
Islamist group Boko Haram, which has repeatedly used young women and girls as human bombs, claimed responsibility for the attack.
"We are the ones that triggered the explosions in the University of Maiduguri," said Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau in an audio message. "A woman can fight when the need arises."
Borno police spokesman Victor Isuku said that before the blast at the mosque, police on patrol shot a girl aged about 12 as she tried to get into the university at about 5:15 am (0415 GMT).
"The IED (improvised explosive device) strapped to her body exploded, killing her instantly," he said in a statement.
"Shortly after that a second explosion occurred in a mosque inside the university.
"Four persons, including a professor and the second suicide bomber, died, while 15 persons sustained various degrees of injuries and were rushed to UMTH (University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital)."
One local resident, who asked not to be identified, said he heard two explosions at 5:25 am as he was leaving the mosque in his neighbourhood.
"I rushed to the university, which is not far from my house. On entering, I saw the mosque in a mess. Three people lay dead, including a young girl, whose body was badly mutilated," he said.
"Thirteen other worshippers were injured."
A university lecturer who lives on site confirmed the resident's account.
- No let-up in attacks -
Filibus Yamta Mshelia, from the registrar's office at the university, said examinations scheduled for Monday had been postponed to a later date because of the attack.
Examinations set for Tuesday will take place as planned, he added in a letter to staff and students.
"We urge all students to remain calm and vigilant," he wrote.
Access to the university campus has been strictly controlled, with checkpoints and searches at the gates, which until now had prevented a direct attack.
But the site, on one of the main thoroughfares leading in to and out of the city, is vast and most areas are badly lit.
Students also say security has been relaxed in recent months and some of the soldiers who manned the campus gates have been withdrawn.
At least 20,000 people have been killed in the Boko Haram conflict since it began in 2009 and more than 2.6 million others made homeless.
Nigeria maintains the insurgency is in its final stages.
Last month said it had flushed out Boko Haram fighters from their stronghold in the Sambisa Forest area of Borno state, of which Maiduguri is the capital.
Yet there has been no let-up in attacks both on troops and civilians. On January 8, at least five soldiers were killed when rebels targeted a base in Buni Yadi, in neighbouring Yobe state.
The following day, suicide bombers killed three in Maiduguri.
Boko Haram's name translates roughly to "Western education is forbidden" in the Hausa language spoken widely across northern Nigeria.
Its fighters have attacked schools across the region for teaching a so-called Western curriculum. Many have only recently re-opened after being shut for several years.
Christian and Muslim students live and study together at the university, which offers both Islamic and Arabic studies, as well as courses from medicine to law.