Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Suicide bomber kills 30 in Maiduguri

A scene of the bomb blast in Maiduguri, Borno State ... on Tuesday.

This year’s Eid Malud Festival was marred in Maiduguri, Borno State  by a  bomb blast  at the busy Post Office Roundabout   in Maiduguri, Borno State on Tuesday.
A lone suicide bomber, believed to be a member of the Islamist militant sect, Boko Haram, carried out the attack which eye witnesses  said   left no fewer than 30 people dead and about 50 others injured.

The attack which occurred at about seven hours after eight people  died   in an   accident  on  the Osara-Okene Express Road, Kogi State, sparked protests by youths, who  alleged that  it  was traceable to politicians.
The angry youths damaged former governor Ali Modu Sheriff’s office  on   Kashim Imam Way  before  they left   for the  Government Reservation Area  where they  also torched  a building belonging to him.
It was gathered that the former governor, who was still in the state as of the time the explosion occurred, was hurriedly driven to the Maiduguri Airport   en route for Abuja. He  was said to have been escorted by a well armed police team.
Soldiers fired shots into the air to disperse the youths  before cordoning off the roads around the blast site and the GRA.
Investigation, however, revealed that Improvised Explosive Devices were wired to a vehicle and detonated  at the   roundabout which also leads to the Monday Market, the busiest market in  the troubled city.
There were however conflicting reports on  how the lone suicide  bomber  arrived and detonated IEDs close to a roadblock mounted by the military near the roundabout.
While the spokesman for  the 7 Division of the Nigerian Army Maiduguri, Col. Mohammed Dole, said the bomber drove a Honda car, Reuters said he arrived at the area in a tricycle  laden with IEDs.
Dole, who   blamed the attack on Boko Haram, said,  “At about 14:13 hours on Tuesday,  January 14, a Honda car laden with IEDs exploded near the Post Office area in Maiduguri metropolis. Members of the frustrated Boko Haram terrorists are suspected to be behind the bomb explosion.
“Many deaths and injuries were recorded and 10 vehicles and five  tricycles are confirmed damaged and one suspect is arrested. This incident happened after a long period of relative peace in Maiduguri and environs.”
But  the state Police Commissioner, Lawan Tanko, told Reuters that his men counted 17 bodies  as of 2pm on Tuesday.
“My men counted 17 dead persons as of  2pm and they are still counting. I instructed my men to go to the University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital and the    Specialist Hospital in Maiduguri to verify if there are others,” Tanko added.
Tanko   confirmed that  the explosion was caused by a suicide bomber who drove a firewood seller truck and detonated a bomb in the middle of the road.
Tanko, who claimed that only five people were injured, added  that security operatives   were  immediately sent    to  public buildings to  prevent attacks on them by the rampaging  youths.
A journalist working at the state television office, Abba Kankami, also told the British news agency that he counted 29 dead bodies.
“The attack happened just behind the fence of my office. I counted 29 bodies, including two kids and a mother. Lots of others seriously injured,”  he said.
However, health workers claimed that 30 bodies were deposited at different hospital mortuaries in the city. They added that 50 injured persons were also brought in.
Another  eyewitness, Aisha Hassan, said  she saw  two boys whose  bodies were cut into pieces.
Hassan, who  added that two  cars immediately caught fire  when the explosion happened, said,  “I ran away because there was too much blood.”
A source  told one of our correspondents that     operatives who rushed to the scene of the blast  which occurred at about 1.30pm,  evacuated the injured and the dead to   the  hospitals.
When contacted, the   Director of  Defence Information, Maj.-Gen Chris Olukolade,  also confirmed  that  security operatives had arrested a suspected insurgent in relation to  the explosion.
He said  the suspect was already assisting a team  investigating  the incident.
The state Governor,  Kashim Shettima,  condemned the  blast,   saying it was  regrettable it happened at  a time people  were enjoying  the return of peace to Maiduguri.
In  a statement by his  spokesman, Isa Gusau, Shettima  expressed     condolences to the families of those who lost their lives.
The statement reads in part, “He (governor) has directed the security to carry out a full scale investigation into the bomb explosion which resulted in the unfortunate youths’ rampage that led to the breakdown of law and order.
“The governor also condemned the uprisings in the last three days in the state capital which he described as unfortunate even though avoidable.”
He also said  that the governor had  directed the Ministry of Health to ensure that   all the injured received proper medical attention.
The statement added that the governor had  met with the National Security Adviser    in Abuja  on  issues of security of lives and property in Borno State.
The governor  appealed to all the  residents of the state to remain law abiding and  reminded  them that peace  was  a collective duty of all.
In  Kogi State, an accident involving  a Toyota Hiace bus, a trailer and a truck   claimed the lives of eight people on the  Osara-Okene Express Road  at about 6.30am on Tuesday.
The Police Public Relations Officer, Kogi State Command, Mr. Redengha Tampa,  said the  trailer collided with  the  truck  and  the bus.
All the dead were said to be the bus passengers.  Two other occupants  of the bus, who  sustained   injuries,  were rushed to Abobo Clinic, Itakpe, for treatment.
The   corpses were taken to the mortuary of the Federal Medical Centre,  Lokoja.

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