Updated on November 18 at 4:52 p.m.
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari visited the northern city of Yola on Saturday, awarding medals to three soldiers who were wounded in military operations against Boko Haram, the Islamist group that has killed thousands of people in the country. Government forces, Buhari said, were winning.
“With what I have seen today, I believe that the Boko Haram are very close to defeat, and I urge you to quickly clear the remnants of these criminals from wherever they may still be hiding,” he said.
Just days later, a suicide attacker detonated a bomb in a crowded fruit and vegetable market in Yola, killing 32 people and injuring 80 others. The explosion, heard across the city, according to witnesses, occurred at about 7:52 p.m. local time Tuesday, the National Emergency Management Agency in Nigeria said on its website.
On Wednesday afternoon, two female suicide bombers killed 11 people in a market in the northern city of Kano, according to the BBC.
Officials suspect Boko Haram was behind both attacks, but the group has not claimed responsibility for either. The Nigerian military this year has reclaimed significant portions of territory seized by the militant group, which is attempting to create an Islamic state. The group’s ability to mount large-scale attacks and abductions weakened, Boko Haram has turned to “soft targets”—markets, mosques, and other public spaces. In late October, a suicide bombing attack at a mosque in Yola killed 27 people.