Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, was yesterday engulfed in multiple bomb explosions suspected to have been planted by members of the Islamic fundamentalist group, Boko Haram. At least 11 persons were killed while many others were critically injured.
The sect, which seeks wider application of the Sharia law in the country, has practically laid a siege to the state since its first uprising in July 2009 that left at least 800 people dead. Fear of a declaration of a state of emergency has spread.
The latest bomb explosions, LEADERSHIP can reveal, came as the director-general, National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Mr. Olaniyi Oladeji, and the national security adviser (NSA), General Andrew Owoye Azazi, arrived in the United States yesterday for a meeting with their counterparts from other countries to deliberate on the best possible ways to tackle terror.
One of the explosions was said to have gone off close to the heavily populated Kano Motor Park with people scampering to safety, abandoning their wares, while another was exploded near St Patrick’s Catholic church.
An eyewitness account has it that there was shooting in the streets and at least three separate bomb blasts were heard after suspected members of Boko Haram attacked a police station in Gwange.
Residents, LEADERSHIP source said, were thrown into confusion as businesses and government offices were said to have been hurriedly closed and streets deserted as heavy security presence comprising the military and the police were seen at strategic locations.
Members of the sect had previously assassinated soldiers, policemen, prison wardens and politicians allied to the Borno State government and the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP).
Confirming the incident, police public relations officer, Lawan Absullahi (ASP), said the assailants who came in motorcycles threw an explosive at the Gwange police station.
The bomb, he said, however, did not hit the police station as it had exploded outside the premises, adding that the hoodlums then engaged the police officers in a gun duel.
Three of the suspects, the police spokesperson said, were gunned down, even as two others were over powered and an AK 47-rifle as well as a black Honda car and mobile phones used for the operation were recovered from the assailants.
Absullahi further disclosed that two by-stander whose identities were yet to be ascertained were killed inside their car in the explosion near a Catholic Church while another person who sustained serious injuries is receiving treatment at the University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital, Maiduguri.
Boko Haram or Yusufiyya Movement had, through its spokesperson last week on British Broadcasting (BBC) Hausa Services, claimed responsibility for coordinated bomb attacks which killed at least 16 persons in the crisis that followed announcement of results of the presidential poll in April.
Members of the group are said to be well armed members of the group whose activities have continued to undermine national security. Security experts believe that poverty, unemployment and ignorance were responsible for fueling the activities of the group which is violently anti-establishment and had been declared by the inspector-general of police, Hafiz Ringim, as his greatest challenge.