The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) tweeted that the three had detonated their devices on Damboa Road—one of the main roads into the city—early Friday morning.
Three petrol bankers were burnt as a result of the bombings, which took place outside a gas station and opposite the regional headquarters of the Central Bank of Nigeria.
NEMA spokesman Abdulkadir Ibrahim said that one bomber had exploded next to a stationary tanker filled with fuel, setting two more tankers on fire and killing the other attackers, according to the AP.
Officials blamed the militant group Boko Haram for the attack, without specifying which faction. Boko Haram has been waging an armed insurgency in northeast Nigeria since 2009, aimed at establishing a hardline Islamic caliphate in the region. In 2016, the group split into two factions—one loyal to longtime leader Abubakar Shekau, and the other led by Abu Musab al-Barnawi, whom the Islamic State militant group (ISIS) appointed as Boko Haram’s leader in a decision rejected by Shekau.
There have been multiple suicide bombings in the region in recent months, but the incidents have failed to cause the large-scale casualties once common in Boko Haram attacks.
Seven suicide bombers blew themselves up on the outskirts of Maiduguri on February 17, apparently targeting a refugee settlement. Nigerian officials did not report any casualties besides the bombers. Shekau also claimed responsibility for the bombing of a staff mosque and campus gate at the University of Maiduguri in January, which killed a professor and a child as well as the two bombers.
“We are lucky. Today could have been another sad day for us in Maiduguri,” said Police Commissioner Damian Chukwu Friday, according to the AP. Chukwu said he assumed the intended target of the attack was a fuel depot down the road from the site of the explosions.
Offensives by the Nigerian military and a regional joint task force have pressed both factions of Boko Haram back. Shekau’s faction is reportedly confined to the remote Sambisa forest in Borno state, northeast Nigeria, while Barnawi’s is reportedly operating out of the Lake Chad Basin area.
A recent report to the U.N. Security Council claimed that both factions are running out of money and are unable to pay fighters’ salaries, and that many attacks perpetrated by the militants were aimed at stealing provisions. Depleted resources have resulted in defections from Boko Haram factions, according to the report.