Michael Olugbode in Maiduguri
After a lull in suicide bomb attacks in Maiduguri, the Borno state capital was rocked by twin bomb blasts yesterday morning.
Yesterday’s bomb blast was the second time in three weeks, after a long break in suicide bombing incidences, which hitherto had been a regular occurrence in the city reputed to be the birthplace of the Boko Haram insurgency.
It was not until recently that many checkpoints were withdrawn from within Maiduguri and the curfew on the town relaxed to between 10pm and 5am daily due to reduced attacks on the town. The Nigeria Police confirmed that nine people were killed in yesterday’s twin bomb attacks on the city.
The Borno State Commissioner for Police, Damien Chukwu, while briefing journalists on the attacks, said one of the incidents occurred at the entrance to one of the Internally Displaced Persons camps, Bakassi camp, just moments after the early morning Islamic prayer.
According to him, a female suicide bomber blended with a group of people returning from the mosque at a few minutes to seven in the morning.
She detonated the bomb on her and in the process died alongside five others. Fifteen others were injured.
The police boss said at a distance of about two kilometres away, another female suicide bomber in a tricycle detonated a bomb which claimed her life and that of two others with her in the tricycle.
Chukwu said the tricycle had tried to detonate the explosive device near a truck conveying petrol to create havoc but was cut off by an onrushing 404 Peugeot car. He said the explosion affected the car but the tanker was saved in what could have been a major disaster. National Emergency Management Authority (NEMA) spokesman, Sani Datti, also confirmed that nine persons were killed in the twin explosions, which left 24 injured.
Datti revealed that there were two explosions in Maiduguri, one at the entrance to Bakassi IDPs camp and the other at the NNPC station along Damboa road.
He said the agency’s rescue team was immediately deployed to the spots to evacuate the victims.
One of the commandants of the youth vigilance group (Civilian JTF), Abba Ali Kalli, told THISDAY over the phone that the two incidents seemed to have been coordinated.
He however said the number of casualties at the entrance to Bakassi camp was yet to be ascertained while the incident at the NNPC Depot junction claimed three lives – the suicide bombers and two other persons in the tricycle.
In another press statement, the Nigerian Army through it’s spokesman for 7 Division in Maiduguri, Col. Mustapha Anka said the incidents occurred simultaneously at about 7.05am yesterday.
He said: “There were two simultaneous suicide bomb explosions at the entrance of Bakassi Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camp and NNPC Mega Filling Station, Damboa Road, Maiduguri.”
He continued: “At the Bakassi IDP’s camp, a suspected female suicide bomber ran into a group of men and women at the entrance while they were coming out of the camp, killing 5 men and injured 11 women. The bodies of the dead men and the injured women have been evacuated.
“At the NNPC, a female suicide bomber followed a fuel tanker in a Keke NAPEP tricycle (rickshaw) with the sole aim of gaining entry to cause maximum damage and casualty but was prevented from gaining access to the station by another vehicle. In that process, the suicide bomber exploded killing the occupants of the tricycle.”
He said: “Troops and security agents had been mobilized and the injured had been evacuated while efforts are ongoing to comb the general area as well as entries and exits of Maiduguri.”
Anka said the Commandant of Operation Lafiya Dole who was at the scene of the incidents had commiserated with the families of the late victims of this cruel act and wished those injured speedy recovery.
He assured the public that efforts were ongoing to track those behind the dastardly acts, but reiterated the need for more vigilance and security consciousness among all, enjoining all citizens to report any suspicious persons or movements to the security agencies.