Six people were killed in a bomb blast as police searched vehicles at a checkpoint outside the northeast Nigerian city of Damaturu on Monday, police and a witness said.

“Eight people including two bombers were killed in the explosion. Two policemen were among the victims,” Yobe state police spokesman Toyin Gbadegesin told AFP.

The explosion happened at about 1:00 pm (1200 GMT) to the north of the city, which is the capital of Yobe state, on the main road to Maiduguri in neighbouring Borno state.

“A police highway patrol team was searching vehicles just outside the city and an SUV with a foreign number (plate) arrived at the spot,” said witness Umar Goni.

“The police were uncomfortable, so they decided to search the vehicle. While the search was going on, another SUV arrived. It was stopped for the same search.

“There was a man and in a woman in the second car. Suddenly, there was a blast from inside the car while two policemen were trying to conduct a search.”

A reporter with state-run Yobe Television, who was at the scene shortly after the blast, said the other four who died were motorists.

“A handbag belonging to the woman in the car was found and some explosives were recovered and defused,” he added.

It was not immediately clear whether the checkpoint was the target but Boko Haram Islamists have hit police stop and search points in the past.

Damaturu has also been repeatedly attacked during the six-year insurgency, most recently last Friday, when explosives strapped to three girls exploded near a Muslim prayer ground and a mosque.

Thirteen people were killed.

The latest deaths take the number of people killed this month alone to more than 500, and nearly 760 since Muhammadu Buhari became president on May 29.

Buhari, who flew to Washington on Sunday for talks with US President Barack Obama on greater US help in defeating the militants, has vowed to crush the rebels.

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