Trader Daba Musa Yobe, who works near the popular market, said the bomb went off just after the market opened at 8 a.m. local time (0700 GMT) on Tuesday, before most traders or customers had arrived.
The explosion reduced stalls and goods to piles of trash, and set a number of cars and tricycle taxis ablaze.
According to Aliyu Aliyu, who identified himself as a member of a vigilante force working with the Nigerian military to help fight Takfiri Boko Haram militants, the blast was so powerful it sent body parts flying onto the roofs of adjacent market stalls.
Nigeria’s Defense Ministry said in a tweet that an “improvised explosive device” went off in “a van loaded with charcoal” and that the area has been cordoned off.
While there was no immediate claim of responsibility, blame quickly fell on Boko Haram militants.
The development came less than 24 hours after Nigeria’s military said it had conducted a raid against an “intelligence unit” of the Boko Haram and had arrested its leader.
Nigeria’s Defense Ministry said in a statement that, during the raid, they arrested the Boko Haram cell’s leader, Babuji Ya’ari, who has “participated actively” in the abduction of almost 300 schoolgirls in the northern town of Chibok.
On April 14, Boko Haram militants kidnapped 276 students from their secondary school in Chibok. Reports say 57 of the girls managed to escape, but 219 are still missing.
The Nigerian government has been under intense pressure by many people around the globe, especially the girls’ families, to secure their release.
Boko Haram, whose name means “Western education is forbidden”, says it will not release the abducted girls until the government releases all its members from prison.