TERRORISTS on Tuesday revisited Kaduna State with a female suicide bomber attacking the secretariat of the Sabon Gari Local Government Area in Dogarawa, killing at least 40 persons, mostly female teachers.
The victims, most of who were said to have been burnt beyond recognition, had been undergoing a staff audit exercise at the secretariat when they met their death.
Others sustained varying degrees of injury in the attack. The attacked secretariat is few kilometres away from the Zaria City.
The bomber sneaked into the secretariat and detonated an Improvised Explosive Device strapped to her body at about 9.30am while staff verification was on.
Also on Tuesday, 14 persons died in an ambush by gunmen at Sho village in the Barkin Ladi Local Government Area of Plateau State.
The Plateau killing occurred at about 12 noon when the victims, who were part of a group that were being escorted by policemen, were ambushed and killed by the gunmen.
Spokesman for the Special Task Force, Capt. Ikedichi Iweha, who confirmed the incident and the death toll, told our correspondent in Jos that the villagers had refused the deployment of STF operatives to their communities and had insisted that they preferred to be guarded by the police.
The victims of the Kaduna attack were taken to the St. Luke Hospital, Wusasa, and the Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital, Shika.
Both hospitals are in Zaria
Eyewitness accounts said the female suicide bomber had joined the queue of workers, pretending to be part of those undergoing the verification exercise.
The verification of workers, it was learnt, coincided with the inaugural address of the newly appointed chairman of the Barkin Ladi Local Government Area’s interim management committee.
Our correspondent also learnt that most of the victims were female primary school teachers from more than three local government areas, including Kubau, Lere and Sabon Gari.
Kaduna State Governor, Nasir el-Rufai; and the State Commissioner of Police, Alhaji Umar Shehu rushed to the scene of the incident.
The governor, who took to his twitter handle to bemoan the incident, however first said only 20 persons died but he later updated the figure, putting the number of deaths at 25 and that 50 persons were injured.
The Chief Medical Director of the Ahmadu Bello Teaching Hospital, Shika, Prof. Lawal Khalid, who declined giving the casualty figure simply said “above a dozen people died.”
A female worker at the local government secretariat, Aisha Mohammed, told one of our correspondents that they were all packed in a hall capable of sitting 500 when “suddenly we heard a deafening sound of the explosion.”
She narrated how three trucks loaded with body parts were conveyed by the police to the hospital.
She said, “We heard a loud sound and everybody scampered for safety. There were lifeless and charred bodies littered all over the place.
“I cannot say the exact casualty figure at the moment but I can say about 40 because I witnessed three police vans loaded with body parts being taken away.”
No more street begging
Meanwhile, el-Rufai, in a statement by his Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Samuel Aruwan, has condemned the attack, which described as an “act of infamy.”
He said, “The casualty count as at 12 noon is 25 fatalities, including a two-year old child. Thirty-two injured persons are being treated at the Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital, Zaria, and other hospitals in the city.
“The blast went off as the residents welcomed the new chairman of the interim management committee of the local government to his office at the secretariat. Some local government staff from Lere and Ikara were also undergoing biometric verification at the venue.
“The Kaduna State Government has expressed its sadness at this mindless attack on our citizens. It has condoled with the victims and is coordinating the treatment of the survivors.”
The governor has also announced the banning of street begging and hawking in the state with immediate effect.
According to the governor, the ban is to enhance security in the state.
He said, “All beggars and hawkers are to stay off the streets until further notice. Any beggar or hawker found on the streets will be arrested, until these measures are relaxed.
“In addition, government reiterates that the ban on motorcycle taxis (achaba) remains in force, and the law will be strictly enforced in this regard.
“The government hereby urges all citizens to report all suspicious persons and movements to the security agencies, and to afford these agencies their maximum cooperation.
“These measures take immediate effect.”
Jos blasts’ deaths now 50
In Plateau State, member representing the Barkin Ladi constituency in the State House of Assembly, Mr. Peter Gyendeng, confirmed the attack to newsmen and decried the alleged daily killing of his constituents.
Meanwhile, the death toll in the twin blasts in Jos has risen to 51.
The North Central zonal coordinator of the National Emergency Management Agency, Mr. Mohammed Abdulsalami, told our correspondent that about seven more people had died at the Plateau Specialist Hospital where they had been receiving treatment.
NEMA had on Monday said 44 persons lost their lives and 47 others were critically injured in the blasts, which rocked Jos city on Sunday night.
Speaking to our correspondent on Tuesday, Abdulsalami said that one of the injured victims died on Tuesday morning while six more corpses were recovered from the scene of the explosion. He said the corpses had been identified by their relatives and taken for burial.
Meanwhile, the Inspector-General of Police, Solomon Arase, has mandated police commissioners in state commands to strengthen security at all mosques, churches and other worship centres across the country.
He also directed that adequate security should be provided at venues where Moslems break their Ramadan fast in the evenings.
A statement by the Deputy Force Public Relations Officer, Abayomi Shogunle, on Tuesday in Abuja advised worshippers to be vigilant and to promptly report to the police any suspicious persons or substances.
In a similar development, the police have banned street hawking and all forms of trading on Abuja roads and highways, especially at road intersections, traffic light points and traffic hold-ups.
In the same vein, unauthorised taxi parks and bus-stops formed around the Federal Secretariat, Abuja, are now prohibited.
“Only bus and taxis painted in authorised commercial colours would be allowed to operate at designated taxi parks and bus stops in and around the Central Area, Abuja. Violators would be apprehended and prosecuted as police units have been directed to enforce the relevant laws in this regard,” the statement added.
Four killed at military checkpoint
Also on Tuesday, another female suicide bomber detonated an IED at a military checkpoint in Borno village, killing four other persons.
A member of the youth vigilante group, Abba Maidugu, said that the lone female suicide bomber alighted at the military checkpoint in a remote village of Sabon Gari in the Damboa Local Government Area of Borno State and detonated an IED strapped to her body, killing herself and four others.
Maidugu said, “At about 10.30am today (Tuesday) a female bomber that wrapped up explosive devices on her body exploded at a checkpoint killing four, including two members of the civilian JTF, and injured many others.”
Sabon Gari is a community in the Damboa southern part of Borno State. The community is about 120 kilometres away from Maiduguri, the state capital.
Borno State is the operational base of the violent Islamic sect, Boko Haram. Most of the sect’s enclaves are located in the state.
13-year-old girl bombs Kano
In Kano, a 13-year-old female suicide bomber detonated a bomb she hid in her body near the popular Aliyu Ibn Abi-talib Mosque at the busy Dengi area of the ancient city on Monday night.
Two persons died in the incident, while four others sustained grievous injuries.
The Kano State Police Command Public Relations Officer, Musa Magaji Majiya, an assistant superintendent of police, who confirmed the incident, said that the Commissioner of Police, Ibrahim Idris, had visited the scene of the explosion to ascertain the extent of damage.
According to him, as soon as the police conclude preliminary investigations, the public will be briefed of its findings. He however said no arrest had been made.
The police described the bomb attack as unsuccessful, because the female bomber failed to hit the mosque, which was said to be her target.
He however cautioned members of the public to be wary of strange faces within their immediate vicinity.