By Ndahi Marama
MAIDUGURI — At least 67 people were feared dead and about 98 others seriously injured yesterday when two female suicide bombers hit a popular Monday market along One-Way Road, Chalarams, Maiduguri, the Borno State capital.
Unconfirmed report said one of the female suicide bombers was a mad woman suspected to have been used by terrorists, leaving over 16 people including the mad woman dead on the spot, while those who sustained injuries were rushed to University of Maiduguri and the State Specialists Hospital for treatment.
The incident which occurred at about 11am forced many traders, students and residents to close. The explosion occurred at a time Governor Kashim Shettima was having security meetings with security chiefs in the state.
This is the second most deadly attacks along Chalarams Road at Monday market. In 2011, some terrorists invaded the market road and killed over 10 traders.
Health worker, Dogara Shehu, said he counted more than “45 people killed, some of them completely decapitated” in the Maiduguri blasts in an account supported by another witness.
An official with National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) confirmed that “many people have been killed” but did not have an official death toll.
“What we have is a case of suicide bombings involving two females,” said a senior security source in the city, who requested anonymity because he is not authorised to speak to the media.
The source told AFP that the “first bomber stood by a motorised rickshaw packed with goods in the bustling market and took a call on her mobile phone. She then dropped it (the mobile phone) and at that moment she blew herself up, so people thought the bomb was concealed in the rickshaw.
“About 10 minutes later, another woman who looked about 19 and carrying what looked like a baby on her back under hijab arrived at the scene that was crowded by rescuers and residents. She then detonated the bomb on her back.”
An eye witness, who was among the lucky survivors, Mallam Ali Mohammed told Vanguard that “two female suicide bombers hit the vicinity of the busy Maiduguri market killing over 60 people.”
Another eye witness, who is a petty trader, Mallam Abba Usman said: “As I am talking to you now, we are still trying to rescue the injured and evacuate the corpses. I cannot give you a number yet but a lot of people died.”
He said it was also difficult to rescue people as the entire place has been cordoned off by the military, even as residents were asking the soldiers to leave the place as they had failed to protect lives and property in the state.
A member of the civilian JTF vigilante who does not want his name in print said that “one of the female attackers kept a parcel in one of the shops on One-way, a commercial area beside the popular Monday Market, telling the traders that she had something to pick from the market, while the package detonated few minutes later.
“And as people were still wondering what was happening and were trying to rescue the injured, another woman in the same area detonated a bomb planted on her, which claimed so many lives.
A trader, Amadi Nuhu, who spoke to our correspondent said: “They were two suicide bombers. The first detonated herself, killing many people and as people were running for their lives, the other bomber detonated her own, killing many more. I don’t know how many people were killed but about 14 Keke Napep (Jega) evacuated corpses to the specialists hospital.”
According to Nuhu, most of the traders along the axis where the suicide bombers attacked were killed in the explosion, with many more who came to the market for business.
35 corpses at specialists hospital
At the state specialists hospital in Maiduguri, our correspondent gathered that, so far 35 corpses were brought to the hospital from the scene of the explosion while other dead bodies were taken to University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital.
A staff of the hospital who did not want his name mentioned said, dead bodies were still being evacuated from the scene of the bomb blasts with hundreds more that were injured.
Confirming the twin bomb blasts, the Police Public Relations Officer, DSP Gideon Jibril said “whatever figure you heard from the hospital sources are their own figure, but as you know we are still evacuating corpses. We have not yet started counting the corpses. This is a sad situation, I will update you whenever we were able to clear the scene and I have the casualty figure.”
Gusau tasks Lake Chad Basin countries on menace
Meanwhile, the Minister of Defence, Lt-.Gen. Aliyu Gusau (rtd), yesterday urged countries in the Lake Chad Basin to urgently work together to curb the menace of terrorism threatening the sub-region.
Gusau spoke at the 4th Meeting of Ministers of Defence, Chiefs of Defence Staff and Heads of Intelligence and Security Services of the member states of Lake Chad Basin Commission, LCBC, and Benin Republic.
Represented by the Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh, Gusau said the global security threat was high.
According to him, “an extension of it is seen and felt in our region by the dastardly act of Boko Haram. This had led to instability, underdevelopment and untold hardship to citizens. In this regard, we continue to condemn the reprehensible and atrocious activities of Boko Haram in our countries.
“This, therefore, brings to the fore the urgent need for close collaboration between us to curb this menace. We must therefore be resolute, focused determined and cohesive in our response to this threat or it will consume us all.”