A suicide bomber, suspected to be a member of the terrorist Islamic sect, Boko Haram, early on Tuesday detonated an Impoverished Explosive Device at the popular Maiduguri Monday Market, killing no fewer than 17 persons.
Sixty-nine persons were reportedly injured in the attack.
Also in Ile-Ife, Osun State, a low-calibre bomb went off in the Onipetu area of the town around 4.00am but nobody was killed.
The Osun State police said they deactivated another bomb before it detonated.
“They were grenades of low calibre. The first one exploded and the other was defused. It happened in an isolated place, so it did not kill nor injure anybody. We have visited the scene and we are investigating the matter,” Commissioner of Police in Osun State, Mr. Ibrahim Maishanu, told The PUNCH.
Also in Kaduna, an explosion occurred around the Asikolaye/Bakin Ruwa area, along the Kaduna western bypass, late on Tuesday.
The casualty figure was not available as of the time of this report, witnesses however said many were killed and several injured.
The explosion reportedly shattered the glass windows of some of the surrounding buildings.
The Information Officer, National Emergency Management Agency in Kaduna State, Halima Suleiman, confirmed the explosion to one of our correspondents on the telephone around 9.45pm.
The Commissioner of Police in Kaduna State, Umar Shehu, confirmed the incident but said that the blast caused no death. He said only two people were injured.
Suleiman explained that the bomb was planted near a makeshift shop where provisions were sold but that it was unlikely that the casualty figure would be high since many people had gone for prayers at a nearby mosque
She said, “We don’t have any casualty figure at the moment but rescue operations are still on. Our officials on the ground said there were pieces of shattered windows. We learnt that a bomb was placed near a container shop that sells provisions.
“We were told it occurred when most people had gone to pray. I will inform you of any development later.”
The attack on the market in Maiduguri, capital of Borno State, occurred at about 8.30am and was said to have affected mostly petty traders and members of the youth vigilante group, popularly called Civilian JTF, in the area.
Nine members of the vigilance group were said to have died in the attack.
The Chairman, Sector 3 of the youth volunteer group, Iliya Saidu, said the vehicle carrying the IEDs broke the mirror of a commercial motorcycle, popularly called Keke NAPEP, following which an altercation ensued and many people were attracted to the scene, including members of the Civilian JTF.
He said it was in the process of settling the quarrel with the Civilian JTF assisting to push the vehicle off the road that the explosive device went off.
“Nine of my members were killed by the blast; we were able to identify them through the vest we gave them and we have already deposited their corpses at the University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital and the state specialist hospital,” Saidu said.
An eyewitness told journalists that the explosives were packed inside a Peugeot 505 saloon car loaded with charcoal. The witness insisted that over 50 persons were killed in the early morning explosion.
Borno State Governor Kashim Shettima, who visited the scene of the blast, condemned the act, describing it as “un-Islamic, barbaric and inhuman.”
The governor thanked the Civilian JTF for their gallantry and assured them that N1m would be paid to each of the families of its deceased members.
He directed the state Commissioner of Police, Alhaji Lawal Tanko, to liaise with the leadership of the Civilian JTF to immediately identify the families of the deceased members to collect the N1m assistance.
The Manager of the Maiduguri Monday Market, Alhaji Bukar Jere, told the governor that 15 members of the Civilian JTF were among those killed in the blast and that 69 other persons sustained injuries.
Jere said four vehicles and four tricycles were burnt in the blast, adding that the incident also affected 49 shops as well as wares displayed by the petty traders.
Shettima, who also paid a visit to the Umaru Shehu Hospital and the Maiduguri Specialist Hospital to sympathise with the injured victims, directed the state Commissioner for Health to ensure that the victims were given the necessary care, promising that the government would settle all their medical bills and feeding.
In the Ile-Ife blast, a resident who identified himself as Adeoye Yusuf, told one of our correspondents that the first bomb exploded at about 4.00am and that the police came around to inspect the area. He added that the police deactivated the second one.
Yusuf said, “The explosion was not serious. But I was told that they were dynamites. One of the dynamites exploded around 4.00am and the police came in the morning to see what happened and they defused the second one.
“Nobody died and nobody was injured. It was not Boko Haram. We don’t pray for such here. I don’t know what really happened but maybe some of the dynamites used for blasting rock were the ones which exploded.”
Another resident told one of our correspondents that the explosion, though minor, damaged parts of some buildings close to the scene.
The CP assured the people of the state of adequate security. He said that the command would reinforce security in all parts of the state to ensure that hoodlums were not allowed to come into Osun State.
He said that no arrest had been made but promised that the command would get to the root of the matter.
The Special Adviser on Security to the Governor Rauf Aregbesola, Mr. Amos Adekunke, told The PUNCH that the explosive devices were locally made.
He said that it was not clear if the person who put the explosives there was up to a mischief or if he was testing the capacity of the bombs.
Two low-calibre explosive devices were uncovered inside a branch of a first generation bank in Osogbo, the Osun State capital, in March.
A vigilant customer, who saw an isolated bag containing the explosives, drew the attention of the bank’s security guard to the bag.
The Bomb Disposal Unit of the police deactivated the explosives, which the CP later referred to as low calibre.