By Emma Ujah, Luka Binniyat, Abdulsalam Muhammad & Ndahi Marama
ABUJA – The dreaded Islamic sect, Boko Haram, yesterday, intensified its bombing campaign when it attacked two military formations and an overhead bridge in Kawo, northern part of Kaduna metropolis.
The first bomb, according to eyewitness, went off under Kawo overhead bridge around 12:45pm; the second at the second gate leading to the Administrative Headquarters, of I Mechanized Division, Kaduna and the third near the gate of the Air force Base, Kawo, Kaduna. There were also multiple blasts at Gomboru Market, Maiduguri and an attack on Sharada Police station, Kano.
This came as five suspected members of Boko Haram were killed during a six-hour gun duel with security forces at Mariri, in the outskirt of Kano on Monday evening. Meantime, there was confusion over a four-man team led by Dr Shettima Ali Munguno to negotiate with Federal Government on Boko Haram’s behalf.
How they attacked
A witness, Mallam Gambo Idris of the Jama’atu Nasril Islam (JNI) told reporters what happened under the Kawo overhead bridge.
His words: “It was around 12:25pm and some mosques were already calling for the afternoon prayers. I was in my house. I fetched some water to do my ablution. Then I heard a loud sound from here. I rushed out. When I came here, I saw these (pointing at four damaged, 8-seater commuter buses) with plenty people covering them. Some of the passengers had wounds from broken glasses.
I know the driver of one of the buses, Bala. His wound was more serious. When members of the civil defence came, they took him away. I heard that his face is now in stitches.
“Not more than 20 minutes after, I heard another explosion. It was from the direction of the Army barracks. People were running all over the place.
“Soon after, there was another explosion far from here. That added to the problem. Cars, lorries and tankers, motor bikes were racing against traffic. Today is a market day. People were carrying their goods and just running. It is now that people have calmed down.
“I think they may have planted the bomb under this bridge to bring it down. I thank God that no one was killed here”, he said.
The explosion at the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) Base, was said to have taken place at the gate of the Base. It was said that a man in a moving car threw a bomb at the Air Force Personnel at the gate, but missed his target by a wide margin, thus hurting no one.
The Press was chased away from getting near the place of the said explosion.
But, Spokesman of Kaduna NAF Base, Squadron Leader Kabiru Ali, told Vanguard on phone, that the Base did not come under any attack.
“Where the explosion took place is far from the gate of our Base. It is at least 500m away. It did not take place in an area under our control. It is a lie that the bomb was at our gate. The explosion, from what I gather, was in a civilian area. I heard that no one was hurt”, he said.
Army confirms attack on 1 Div, Kaduna
The Nigerian Army last night confirmed that it was attacked by two suicide bombers, but claimed that the attack was not successful.
In a statement by Assistant Director, Army Public Relations of I Division, Kaduna, Lt Col Abubakar Edun, reads: “At about 1218 pm on Tuesday, February 7th, 2012 a failed suicide bomb attempt was made on the headquarters complex of 1 Division of Nigerian Army, Kawo, Kaduna. The two suicide bombers came in two vehicles, a Sienna Toyata space bus and a Honda Accord.
The drivers of the two vehicles overran the security post and the lawn leading to the Headquarters complex. One of the vehicles (Toyota Sienna Space Bus) exploded by the car park directly in front of the Headquarters, when a soldier opened fire on the car after the attacker refused to stop which made him lose control of the vehicle.
The second vehicle, which did not explode was loaded with 10 numbers of 20 litre of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), 4 numbers of 30 litres loaded with IEDs, and 2 numbers of large peak milk containers also loaded with IEDs. The suicide bombers in the Toyota Sienna Space bus died in the attempt while, there was no casualty on the part of our own troops.”
Soldiers kill 5 sect members in Kano
Five suspected members of Boko Haram were said to have lost their lives when they clashed with security forces at Mariri, Kano on Monday evening.
Security sources told Vanguard that a combined team of security personnel had trailed the members to a bungalow at Mariri when they suddenly came under fire from within and the exchange of fire lasted for several hours.
The clash came on the heel of a bomb attack on a police station in Sharada Industrial zone over which a police authority confirmed a personnel was shot in the leg
The source explained that the suspects detonated explosives that shook the neighbourhood while the gun fight lasted, adding that several members of the sect sustained injuries during the clash and some IEDs, 10 AK 47 assault rifles with 26 magazines and 106 ammunition were recovered.
Confirming the bloody show down, Kano Commissioner of Police, Mr. Ibrahim Idris, stated that 10 AK47 riffles were recovered from the house and several arrests were made with some casualties. He, however, said the security forces recorded no death in the operation.
Boko Haram vows to Islamise Nigeria
However, Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for the attacks on the Dalet Military Barracks, Number 1 Div in Kaduna, the Sharada Police station in Kano as well as yesterday’s multiple bomb blasts in Gomboru Market of Maiduguri, the Borno State Capital.
Speaking to newsmen in a telephone conference yesterday in Maiduguri, alleged Spokesman of the sect, Abul –Qaqa said they always hit their military targets after which, the Joint Task Force (JTF) “will come and kill innocent people on the streets and thereafter attribute the killings to Boko Haram.”
Qaqa said the Kaduna attacks was in view of the arrest of one of the sect’s kingpins by SSS recently. He said, the Maiduguri multiple bomb blasts in Gomboru Market were successful. He regretted that the JTF claimed that it was a fire incident that took place in the market, pointing out that, it was after their successful attacks, that the JTF condoned off the area and set the market ablaze.
The acclaimed spokesman also said that his members were still ever ready to pursue their mission of Islamizing the country.
Boko Haram names negotiators
Amid the increasing waves of bomb attacks, there were indications, yesterday, that Boko Haram is considering a dialogue with the Federal Government as it named some Northern leaders it said it could trust to negotiate on its behalf.
Those named in a video clip on the NTA were: Sheik Abubakar Gero, Dr. Shettima Ali Munguno, Alhaji Ali Bukar Ibrahim, former Governor of Yobe State and Dagogo Kabir.
The sincerity of those behind the video is engaging security analysts as it came on a day that multiple blasts rocked Kaduna town with security agencies and armed forces as targets.
The tape, which NTA claimed was delivered by an unidentified source featured two figures, fully masked in black. Only the voice of one was heard, while the other was silent.
“We here confirm and accept the reported initiative of the President for a dialogue as a welcome development”, the speaker who did not identify himself said.
According to him, the group trusts the named leaders and said “the decision taken by these people can actually change the whole situation”.
Borno Elders and Leaders of Thought had in a paid advert on January 4 urged the Federal Government to initiate a dialogue with Boko Haram. The group’s statement, signed by Dr. Shettima Ali Monguno on behalf of 20 others, said that the crisis had been hijacked by groups and individuals to prosecute their criminal agenda.
Group denies link with negotiating team
Meanwhile, Boko Haram has denied any link with the video clip or its authors.
In a telephone conference with newsmen in Maiduguri yesterday, Qaqa said that those who appeared on the NTA Video clip were not their members and therefore urged the public to disregard their claims that the sect was ready for dialogue. He said Boko Haram, had not in anyway mandated any of its member (s) to appear on a video clip on its behalf.