- Dozens feared killed, many more injured
From Mustapha Isah Kwaru, Maiduguri
Unspecified number of people were yesterday killed in separate explosions that rock Maiduguri, the Borno state capital, Kaduna, the capital of Kaduna state, as well as Ile Ife, one of the major towns in Osun state.
In the suicide attack in Maiduguri, which occurred early in the morning yesterday, our correspondent said at least 17 persons were killed and 69 others were wounded, but a member of a youth volunteer, popularly referred to as Civilian JTF, who was at the scene of the incident told Hausa service of the BBC that no fewer than 21 persons died in the blast.
Other sources said the number of the dead may be up to 50 as several of the wounded victims later died in various hospitals where they were admitted.
“I can confirm to you that 35 victims, who were critically wounded, were initially brought to the hospital, but 15 died later. More victims might die due to the pathetic nature of their injuries, but we have mobilised more personnel and equipment to offer effective treatment for them”, said a source at one of the hospitals in the city.
The blast in the Borno state capital, suspected to have been carried out by Boko Haram insurgents at the Maiduguri Monday Market, caused pandemonium and paralysed socio-economic activities in the city as residents stayed indoors.
Witnesses said the incident occurred around 8.15am, and the heavy explosion from a bomb concealed in charcoal loaded in a 504 car was heard in various parts of the city.
There were conflicting accounts on how the explosion occurred, with some witnesses saying that the explosives-laden vehicle was parked on a roadside before the explosives went off.
Another account, however, had it that the suspected suicide bomber parked the car and attempted to leave, but members of the vigilante, who were suspicious of his movement directed him to remove the vehicle.
“The bomber then entered into the car, but pretended as if it was faulty and cannot be driven away. Two Civilian JTF members at the scene then mobilised other colleagues to push the car. However, as they started pushing it, the bomber who was already seated, hurriedly detonated the explosives”, a witness who declined identification, said.
Witnesses said dozens of people were decapitated by the bomb, which also destroyed shops, vehicles and tricycles. “The victims are old women that sell kola nuts and groundnuts. Petty traders that went to the market early were also killed,” another witnesses said.
Our correspondent who was in the entourage of Governor Kashim Shettima of Borno state to the scene, reported that there was colossal loss at the frontage of the market, which is the city’s biggest.
He observed that the damage would have been worse, if not for the Ramadan fasting which delayed people from going out early.
According to our man, hundreds of youths took over the place after fire fighting men put off the flames. Bodies of those killed and wounded were taken to various hospitals by officials of the Red Cross,
National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), youth volunteers and other humanitarian agencies.
Chairman of the Maiduguri Monday Market Company, Babagana Bukar Jere, who briefed Governor Shettima at the scene of the blast, said 16 members of the Civilian JTF were among those who died in the blast.
Jere said the slain youths were stationed in the market to complement efforts of the security forces in hunting the fleeing insurgents.
Also commenting on the bomb blast, the Sector 3 Commander of the Civilian JTF, Iliya Sa’idu, told the governor that nine corpses of his members were identified among the dead persons.
Governor Shettima, while on the visits, condemned the act, describing it as un-Islamic, barbaric and inhuman.
The governor thanked the Civilian JTF for their gallantry and assured them that N1 million will be paid to each family of deceased members to alleviate their suffering.
Shettima also donated the sum of N200,000 to each of the wounded victims, urging them to consider the incident as an act of God.
He directed the state Commissioner of Police, Lawal Tanko, to liaise with the leadership of the Civilian JTF to immediately identify the families of the deceased members to collect the N1 million assistance.
…Attack near Sheikh Dahiru Bauchi’s residence in Kaduna
From Muhammad Ibrahim, Kaduna
Also yesterday, there was pandemonium at Asikolaye, a suburb of Kaduna metropolis, following a bomb explosion near Sheikh Dahiru Usman Bauchi’s residence in the area.
Reports from the area said the blast occurred immediately after Magrib (Sunset) prayers around 7:30pm. The explosive device, according to sources, was placed on the route through which the Islamic cleric usually walks to his popular mosque, which was within trekking distance from his residence.
However, as luck will have it, most residents were indoors because of a rainfall which compelled residents to combine the Sunset and After Sunset (Isha) prayers, all at once. The worshippers were said to have hurriedly dispersed from the mosque due to the rainfall, and in line with the religious teachings relating to those kind of weather situations.
The loud sound, sources said, sent shivers into the few residents’ spines as they ran for safety.
Our correspondent gathered that no life was lost in the incident, but most of the cars parked nearby were damaged.
A resident of the area said the explosive was packaged inside a drainage close to a meat seller’s shop.
“The owner of the shop was not there when the explosion occurred. We leant he too went to pray in the mosque when the explosion occurred.
We just thank God that nobody was killed”, the resident said on phone.
Reports said policemen guarding the cleric’s home condoned off the area before the arrival of other security agents.
It was not clear whether the bomb was targeted at the cleric or at someone else, but it was gathered the bomb left a big hole where it exploded.
When contacted, state police command Public Relations Officer, DSP Aminu Lawan, confirmed the incident, describing it as “a minor blast”. He said only one person had a minor injury during the blast.
In Ile Ife, Osun state, the popular town hosting the Great Ife University, a grenade was reported to have gone off, even as the All Progressives Congress (APC) accused members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) of having a hand in it.
The device was said to have gone off behind a house near the family compound of the state Commissioner for Culture and Tourism, Sikiru Ayedun.
The APC-led state government said Osun had been peaceful until very recently when PDP vowed to ‘snatch’ it from Governor Rauf Aregbesola.
A leader of the APC in Ife who is also the Special Adviser to the governor on Youths and Special Needs, Comrade Biyi Odunlade, confirmed the explosion and said it went off in an area usually populated by APC loyalists.
“This is an APC stronghold. I am sure the intention is to kill many of our people in this area,” Odunlade said.
On Monday, several campaign billboards of Governor Aregbesola were said to have been pulled down in Ilesa town in the state.
The governor has calmed the people of the state against being provoked, urging them to eschew violence and go about their businesses peacefully.