According to the police, the attack that involved gunmen with explosives may be to avenge a man lynched at the market after he was caught trying to steal cattle.
Col. Dahiru Abussalam said men of the Joint Task Force (JFT), consisting or army and police personnel, are pursuing the "unidentified gunmen."
reports that police spokesman Toyin Gbadegesin, told AFP
that "a group of gunmen armed with around 20 explosives and assault rifles attacked the Potiskum cattle market. They threw explosives and shot indiscriminately, setting fire to the market, killing lots of livestock and wounding many people, mostly cattle dealers."
Business Day Online
reports that Gbadegesin said that at "about 18.00 hours, gunmen using assorted rifles and explosive devices attacked the cattle market in Potiskum. As at now, we cannot ascertain the number of casualties but there were deaths and some of those wounded are receiving treatment." The police spokesman said one AK-47 rifle was recovered from the scene of the attack.
The men trapped the traders in the fenced market by locking the gates.The market was set on fire and razed to the ground during the attack. Rescue workers told AFP
that “34 bodies were deposited at the hospital,” and that the toll would likely rise to over 50. Witnesses said several corpses were evacuated from the market.
Security officials say the attack does not appear to have been carried out by the militant Islamic sect Boko Haram which has been conducting a bloody insurgency against the Nigerian government in the last few years.
reports that the Potiskum cattle market is "a bustling trading hub, with cattle on sale from neighboring Chad, Cameroon and Niger."
Cattle raids are not uncommon in the far northern part of the country.