From Mustapha Isah Kwaru, Maiduguri, Edwin Olofu & Mustapha Adamu, Kano
- As Boko Haram invades Damaturu
- No links with insurgents – FG
- Nigeria under siege – ACF
At least 20 people were feared dead in another tragedy which struck Maiduguri, the Borno State capital yesterday morning as twin bomb explosions suspected to have been detonated by female suicide bombers went off in the Monday Market..
Traders and many people who visited the market were among those feared dead after the incident
This came nearly a week after two female suicide bombers attacked the same area, killing more than 45 people.
The blasts, suspected to have been planted by Boko Haram insurgents occurred not far from the scene of last Tuesday’s twin suicide bombing at One Way Monday Market which killed at least 24 people and injured nearly 60.
A thunderous sound was heard across Maiduguri around 11.15am.This was followed by thick smoke even as pandemonium ensued around the scene as people scampered for safety.
“A middle-aged woman approached the site where chicken sellers attend to customers but vigilantes who stood nearby insisted on checking the luggage she was carrying,” said witness Ahmad Sanusi.
“The woman refused, arguing that what she held were her wares. While the argument ensued, some people gathered at the scene and that was when she detonated the explosive,” he told newsmen
The Monday Market was hit last Tuesday by two women who detonated explosives hidden under their hijabs. The same market was attacked on July 1 and at least 15 people died.
A police bomb squad on Friday defused a suspected remote-controlled improvised explosive device buried in the dirt near another market in Maiduguri.
Boko Haram militants were suspected and it was thought the bomb was intended to hit worshippers at a local mosque. Two suspected female suicide bombers were arrested in Maiduguri last week.
It was not immediately clear whether the woman in Monday’s incident was a suicide bomber or if she was merely carrying explosives hidden in her luggage.
There was no immediate official confirmation of fatalities but the police, army and Red Cross were at the scene.
Another local resident who was in the area at the time said: “I was at the Borno State Television Station, which is just opposite the Monday Market, to see a friend.
“I heard an explosion and we were told that it happened at the market. I’m now in his office because it’s not safe to venture outside,” said the resident, who declined identification.
However, there were conflicting reports over the actual casualty figures as some witnesses claimed that only six people including two female suicide bombers died in the blasts.
According the witnesses the first explosion occurred around 11:20pm at one of the entrances of the market when a female suicide bomber who refused to submit herself for security check detonated the explosives strapped to her body.
It was further gathered that three people and the suicide bomber died in the first explosion. “She refused to submit herself to members of the civilian JTF who were conducting checks at the market and therefore detonated the explosives on her,” a witness, Modu Shettima, said.
He added that the second female suicide bomber ran into a shop and was dragged out by the shop owner, before the bomb exploded killing her and the shop owner.
Meanwhile, Damaturu the Yobe state capital came under heavy attack by members of the Boko Haram yesterday, leaving fears that many would have been killed
Fleeing residents said they may have surrounded the town as explosions and gunshots were heard in some parts of Damaturu.
Reports said that shooting started as early as 6a.m in the Yobe State capital located 135 kilometres west of Maiduguri, the Borno State capital.
But a statement by the Yobe State Governor, Ibrahim Gaidam, who was on official assignment to Abuja, condemned the attack as heinous and barbaric.
He said security forces worked very hard on the ground and from the air to repel the attack and force many of the attackers to flee. “As a result of their effort, Damaturu remains firmly under government control.”
The governor urges people in Damaturu and all across the state to continue to remain vigilant and pray to Almighty Allah for intervention.
However, the apex body of the North, Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), said Monday that it was clear that Nigeria is under siege.
It tasked the Federal Government to, as a matter of urgency, identify and dialogue with the real Boko Haram leaders in order to halt the carnage in the North.
In a related development, Vice President Architect Mohammed Namadi Sambo, Monday exonerated the Federal Government of having a hand in the insurgency being perpetrated by members of the dreaded Boko Harama sect.
Sambo who was speaking when he paid a courtesy visit to the Emir of Kano, Alhaji Muhammadu Sunusi II at his palace in Kano, yesterday to commiserate with him over last Friday’s mosque attack that claimed dozens of lives, said the insinuations being peddled in some quarters that the Boko Haram insurgents are enjoying the support of the government, is totally untrue.
He added that the issue of political undertone attached to the issue is the handiwork of mischief makers who are bent in causing disaffection among citizens.