Return of suicide bombers: Fear grips Borno residents

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By Ndahi Marama

In his maiden speech at his inauguration as President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on May 29, 2015, General Muhammadu Buhari had vowed to crush terrorism in the country. It was a hope-inspiring and instilling statement for the people of the North East, particularly in Borno State, who had suffered terrible atrocities perpetrated by Boko Haram insurgents.

Unfortunately, the joy the statement elicited was short-lived as the insurgents have since intensified their deadly attacks on Borno, leaving hundreds of innocent citizens either dead or severely injured. This is despite the President’s order to the military authorities to relocate the Command and Control Centre from Abuja to Maiduguri, the Borno State capital.

As if in response to this, the terrorists have resorted to the use of female suicide bombers who target crowded areas such as market and other public gatherings. Apart from numerous suicide attacks since May 29, 2015, it was a bloody Ramadan week of suicide bombings in Maiduguri and some parts of Yobe State beginning from June 22 to date.

On Monday June 22, two female suicide bombers sneaked into the popular and busy Baga fish market in Maiduguri and its environs and succeeded in detonating some Improvised Explosive Devices, IEDs. The explosion left dozens dead and several injured.

In another twin female suicide bombings, a middle aged man from the South West part of the country working with the Borno State Government (names withheld) was killed alongside his son, a secondary school student, while they were shopping at the footwear section of the market. The incident, according to sources, took place “at about 3:40pm on Monday when Muslim faithful in the market were observing their Laasar prayers. The first explosion went off at the centre of the market killing 35 people with over 50 seriously injured”.

Another source revealed that “immediately after the first blast, another female suicide bomber killed herself when the IEDs wrapped in her body accidentally went off before reaching its intended target at a mosque close to the market”.

Baga market is a stone throw to the 7 Division, Nigerian Army, now the Military Command and Control Centre. The market which was initially an international fish market had witnessed series of bombings and killings in recent past. However, customers still troop to the market for smoked bush meat and fish brought all the way from the Lake Chad Basin.

An eye witness, Mallam Abubakar Aji Ali said, the explosion left dozens of people, including some Muslims who were performing their3:30pm prayers, dead with others seriously injured. “Immediately after the blast, I saw two trucks filled with blood-covered corpses coming out from the Baga main gate,” a resident in a nearby federal low cost estate who did not want his name mentioned told Vanguard Metro, VM, on phone.

Mallam Usman Ibrahim, one of the fish sellers at the market told VM that the dismembered bodies of the victims as well as the injured were immediately rushed to various hospitals as traders and customers scampered for safety while shops remained closed. The Police Commissioner, Mr. Opadokun confirmed the incident. “Twelve people died, including the bombers, and many were seriously injured. The victims were conveyed to the hospital. Investigation in progress please,” he informed.

On same Monday, June 22, 2015, no fewer than 26 people were feared dead while 20 others sustained gunshot injuries when suspected members of the dreaded Islamic sect, Boko Haram, stormed Debiro village in Biu Local Government Area of Borno State. The insurgents who were in four Hilux vehicles and motorcycles, according to Mallam Yakubu Debiro – the son of the District Head of the village, also burnt down many residential houses and vehicles before leaving without confrontation.

Debiro, the home town of the former Commander of the Joint Task Force, Major General Bata Debiro (retd), was hit by members of the Boko Haram for the third time this year, according to locals from the area. Debiro is north east of Biu and about 45 kilometres drive to the council headquarters. Although the people of Debiro are more associated with Hawul Local Government Area that is just about 25 kilometres drive to Azare the council headquarters of Hawul.

It was gathered that when the militants arrived the village in the night, they initially shot and killed 17 people before injuring many others, only to return again for another round of killing when surviving residents were busy burying their dead. Usman Malgana, who spoke with VM from the General Hospital in Biu confirmed that they lost 26 people, while 20 are currently receiving treatment at the hospital with doctors battling to save their lives.

Similarly, on Tuesday June 23, 2015, a female suicide bomber detonated Improvised Explosive Devices killing scores of people and injuring 26 others in Nannawaji village of Gujba Local Government Area of Yobe State North East Nigeria. Those injured in the suicide bomb attack were taken to the Damaturu Specialist Hospital where they are currently receiving treatment.
An eye witness who accompanied the victims to the hospital in Damaturu, Mallam Adamu, told newsmen that the suicide bomber attacked the market around 10: 30am, killing several people. According to him, many people were killed but because the market was in disarray, no one could exactly tell how many people were killed in the attack.

He, however, informed that 26 victims were taken to the Damaturu Specialist Hospital where they are currently receiving treatment. The Medical Director of the hospital, Dr. Garba Fika, who spoke to VM on the attack, said 26 patients were brought to the hospital for treatment. He said three patients were taken to the theatre for various operations as three or four others may be referred to the Federal Medical Centres in Nguru, Azare in Bauchi State or the Aminu Kano Hospital in Kano.
Apart from the fear engendered by this spate of bombings, the recent statement credited to the Acting Director Army Public Relations, Colonel Sani Kukasheka Usman, that it will take 21 days to complete installation of hi-tech equipment at the Military Command and Control Centre, MCCC, in Maiduguri and Yola, is believed to have increased apprehension among people of the region.

Indeed fear-stricken people in the region cannot help but wonder aloud when the military will get cracking and put a stop to the ongoing carnage. According to Colonel Sani Usman: “The installation of hi-tech equipment of the centre and posting of additional operation staff have … commenced; these are to be completed within 21 days when the MCCC would be fully operational”. But fear-stricken people in the region cannot help but wonder aloud when the military operatives will get cracking and put a stop to the ongoing carnage.

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