April 30, 2012

Two Profs, many others killed in church blast

Two Profs, many others killed in church blast

BOMB BLAST AT BUK—A seriously injured victim of the BUK bomb attack being taken out from an ambulance outside the emergency unit at Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital Kano, yesterday. Photos: AFP.

By AbdulSalam Muhammad
KANO —TWENTY persons were killed yesterday, including two university professors with several others injured when gunmen armed with bombs attacked St Stephen Catholic Chaplain, Bayero University, Kano.

The attack occurred at Theatre Two, near Sports Complex, at the old Campus of the institution as Christian worshippers were holding Sunday services. Vanguard gathered that two professors, one identified as Prof. Ayodele of the Chemistry Department and Andrew Leo of the Library Department, were among the dead. The university’s Public Relations Officer, Malam Zaharadeen, confirmed the death of the professors.

An eye witness told Vanguard that the attackers who were armed with Improvised Explosive Devices arrived the Theatre hall of the university at about 8.45a m in a car and two motorcycles and took positions at all the exit points after which they threw the bomb devices into the hall. When the bombs exploded, it caused stampede and when the worshippers attempted to escape from the hall, the gunmen who had positioned themselves at exit points opened fire on them.

BOMB BLAST AT BUK—A seriously injured victim of the BUK bomb attack being taken out from an ambulance outside the emergency unit at Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital Kano, yesterday. Photos: AFP.

According to one witness, “they first attacked the open-air service outside the faculty of medicine. They threw in explosives and fired shots, causing a stampede among worshippers. They now pursued them, shooting them with guns. They also attacked another service at the sporting complex.”

A witness who said he was at the sporting complex at the time of the attack reported hearing gunshots outside while they were praying. “Then there was pandemonium,” he said, adding that he later saw two men outside shooting indiscriminately.

The source explained that scores of others including women and children were injured and taken to hospitals for medical attention.

Musical instruments and half-eaten meals could be seen at the site of one of the services.

A crowd later gathered at a Kano hospital waiting to hear news about friends or family.

A member of the rescue team who pleaded anonymity told Vanguard that, “we have recovered 18 dead bodies so far and have transfered same to Murtala Muhammad Specialist Hospital.”

At the time of this report, no group has claimed responsibility for the attack.

JTF spokesman, Lt Ikediche Iweha confirmed the incident but referred Vanguard to confirm the casualty figures from the university authority. The  JTF spokesman, said military operatives had been deployed to the area to restore order. Iweha, however, refused to give further details, saying: “I can’t give you in details of what happened as our people are now at the scene of the incident.”

When contacted, BUK Public Relations Officer, Malam Zaharadeen said: “JTF has taken over the process and we will give you details as soon as they hand over.”

On his part, the Chairman, Christian Association of Nigeria, Kano Chapter, Rev Ransom Bello while confirming the incident expressed fear that dozens might have been affected.

According to Rev Bello, “the Commissioner of Police has put me on notice about the ugly incident in BUK old campus but yet to confirm the casualty figure”.

Rev Bello stated that “it was morning mass and I have this feeling that dozens might have been affected but we are waiting for final figure from the security forces.”

Nigerians react to Kano bomb blast

Meantime,the Coordinator, Patriotic Alliance of Nigeria (PAN), Chief Maxi Okwu, has advised the Federal Government not to negotiate with any armed sect.  Okwu, whose organisation comprised members of opposition political parties, made the call yesterday in a telephone interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) while reacting to Sunday’s bomb attack in Kano.

“Globally, nations no longer negotiate with terrorists. The hammer must fall heavily on the sect and especially their political sponsors whose sole aim is to destabilise the nation.

“These bomb attacks have gone out of hand and the sect has continued to thrive because of their sponsors,“ Okwu said.

Mr Tony Uranta, the Executive Secretary of  the United Niger Delta Energy Development Security Strategy (UNDEDSS), said that the Federal Government should abandon any planned negotiations with the sect.

“We demand that the Federal Government must cease every move toward holding talks with these monsters unless and until they abandon this callously inhumane modus operandi that has claimed thousands of innocent lives.

“There is no justification for the existence of the sect. Enough is enough as Nigeria belongs to all,“ he said.

The President of  Arewa Youth Consultative Forum, AlhajiYerimma Shetima, said,  “the perpetrators and their sponsors must be traced and brought to book.“

It is sad and unfortunate —Gov Kwankwaso

Governor Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso who cut short his official visit to Abuja on Sunday and visited the venue of the attack described it as sad and unfortunate. He was conducted round by the Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academics) Professor Yahuza Bello and said “this is sad and unfortunate against the backdrop that the attack is coming at a point peace is gradually returning to the commercial city”.

The governor announced that the state government will be responsible for the medical bills of those injured and receiving treatment at the hospital, adding that a notice to this effect has been served to all Chief Medical Directors of existing private and public health institutions in the state.

Kwankwaso who commiserated with the university community assured that his administration will exploit available option to forestall a re-occurrence.

In a speech earlier, the Deputy Vice Chancellor Academics, Professor Yahuza Bello explained that some worshippers were attacked at an indoor sports hall, while another set of worshippers were attacked in an open space outside Dandatti Abdulqadir Hall which is currently undergoing renovation.