By KINGSLEY OMONOBI, EMMAN OVUAKPORIE, Umar Yusuf, Bala Ajiya & Suzan Edeh
Bauchi— A suicide bomber, yesterday, attacked the Saint John’s Catholic Church in Bauchi, opposite Abubakar Tafawa Balewa Stadium, killing four people and injuring 46 others.
Deputy Police Public Relations Officer, Hassan Mohammed Auyo, who confirmed the incident to Vanguard, said: “When a suicide bomber attempted to gain entrance into the premises of the church, he could not because of the barricade of the church.
The suicide bomber then decided to detonate the bomb in the parking lot, killing himself and three others, while several others sustained injuries. The injured victims were taken to the hospital for treatment. A boy between the ages of six and eight died while receiving treatment” ASP Hassan added that two other policemen deployed to protect the church sustained injuries.
The Chairman of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Bauchi State chapter, Rev. Lawi Pokti, who narrated how the incident occurred said, “the incident occurred around 8.55a.m. when the first set of worshipers were coming out of the church and the second session was about to start.
The suicide bomber came in an Opel saloon car but could not get through to the church premises; so he hit the barricade at the gate and detonated his explosive device.
“He and three worshipers died while over 40 others were injured. Some of those injured are battling between life and death,” he said.
A worshipper, Mr Osondu Chukwu, told the News Agency of Nigeria, NAN, that but for the barricade, the casualties would have been more. The sound was massive and you can imagine if he had succeeded in getting to the hall where service was taking place,” he said.
Mr Adamu Abubakar, the Secretary of the Nigeria Red Cross in Bauchi State, also confirmed to NAN on telephone that three persons died with the bomber.
“Three persons died and 48 others were injured. Those injured are now being treated at the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa Teaching Hospital, Bauchi,” he said.
Tambuwal condemns bomb attack
Reacting to the bomb attack, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, condemned the suicide attack, describing it as ignoble, wicked and horrendous.
In a statement issued by his Special Adviser on Media and Public Affairs, Malam Imam Imam, the Speaker urged security agencies to ensure that the perpetrators of the violent act were brought to justice.
He said the gains recorded by the security agencies in their battle against terror in the country in recent weeks should be built upon in order to protect the citizens at all times.
While condoling with the victims of the blast, Tambuwal urged Nigerians to be more prayerful and to provide useful information that would lead to the arrest of the perpetrators and their sponsors, if any.
1,000 troops deployed to Damaturu
Meanwhile, following confirmation that scores of Boko Haram adherents relocated to Damaturu to continue their bombing activities and use the anti-Islamic protests as pretext for violence, military authorities have deployed about 1, 000 soldiers and other security agents in Yobe State.
The deployment of the soldiers, according to JTF sources, came just as over 1, 000 persons were arrested by JTF along Maiduguri Road following intelligence reports of plans to unleash gun and bomb attacks on prominent citizens, communication facilities and churches in the state.
Vanguard was, however, told by some indigenes of Damaturu that 45 civil servants were among the over 1, 000 persons arrested by the troops alleging that efforts to identify themselves were brushed aside by the troops.
The action of the soldiers to go all out for suspects over the alert was said to have caused pandemonium along Maiduguri Road, which is the only area where commercial activities are said to be picking up following the onslaught of the insurgents in the state.
Speaking on the arrests, spokesman for JTF in Damaturu, Lieutenant Eli Lazarus, noted that the deployment of the troops comprising soldiers, anti-terrorist squad and regular policemen, as well as others being expected, was to enable them subdue the insecurity and other challenges in the state. Vanguard learnt that the 1, 000 troops deployed to Damaturu were camped in Kukareti.