Boko Haram Dares Buhari, Hits Maiduguri | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Boko Haram Dares Buhari, Hits Maiduguri

Posted: May 31, 2015 at 12:04 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Ejikeme Omenazu, Lagos (With Agency Reports)

In what may seem a determination by the Boko Haram sect to dare the political will of the newly inaugurated government of President Muhammadu Buhari, there were multiple attacks in three different parts of Maiduguri, the Borno State capital between Friday and Saturday afternoon.

Fire service men on duty after a bomb blast

Fire service men on duty after a bomb blast

A total of 39 people were killed and 47 injured in the attacks, the latest of which was the deadly suicide bombing inside a mosque on Saturday afternoon, killing 26 people and injuring 28 others during the afternoon prayers, police said.

The assailant had pretended to be a worshipper joining afternoon prayers, sources said.

Confirming the incident, Borno State Police Commissioner,Aderemi Opadokun, told journalists that the “suicide bomber, strapped with an IED, exploded himself in the Alhaji Haruna Mosque,” in the Monday Market area.

“Twenty-six people were confirmed dead while 28 were injured,” he explained.

The bomber, according to AFP, blew himself inside the mosque next to the Monday Market in Maiduguri just after afternoon prayers began at roughly 3:30 pm, multiple witnesses said.

“The roof was blown off and fire destroyed the mats and a few (copies of the) Koran,” a trader, Nura Khalid, told AFP.

Khalid said he personally counted nine corpses being evacuated from the mosque.

The attack followed an earlier one very early that day when men believed to be members of the Boko Haram sect attacked a residential area in the state capital, killing 13 people and injuring another 17.

Buhari, who took over from former President Goodluck Jonathan on Friday in Abuja, had said in his maiden address, that the country would crush the insurgents, who he described as “godless.” He also ordered that the operational base of the nation’s military be relocated to Maiduguri, as a way of confronting the insurgents headlong.

Saturday morning’s attack also came hours after suicide bombers of the sect struck at the venue of a wedding ceremony in Tashan-Alede, a village located in Hawul Local Government Area, 270 kilometers from Maiduguri, killing six people and wounding about 30.

Speaking on the Saturday morning attack, security officials and witnesses said the insurgents launched rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs) into a residential building in Maiduguri at about 1a.m. local time.

Shortly after midnight (2300 GMT Friday), residents in Dala woke to the sound of RPGs fired in succession, Modu Karumi, a resident said, in an account supported by several others.

The military however said on Saturday morning, that it repelled the attack that was most heavily concentrated in the Dala suburb, south of the city.

A resident, Mari Madu, told newsmen that he heard about 40 explosions, before he lost count.

“Each time they fired into the town, we see bright sparkling light, which moved with great speed passing over our houses.

“One of the blasts shook the roof of my house so badly that I thought it might have landed on my house,” Madu said.

Maiduguri-based vigilante, Babagana Bulunkutu, explained that the RPGs fell on homes “while residents were sleeping.

“Five houses were destroyed,” and Islamist gunmen fired indiscriminately in Dala and two neighbouring suburbs, Bulunkutu said.

“It was a nightmare,” Malam Yusuf, another resident of Dala, told AFP. He said his own home was hit and his wife’s foot “blown off.”

“RPGs kept flying and falling on homes,” he said.

While some residents counted bodies being removed from targeted homes, no one was able to provide a precise death toll and emergency workers in Borno were not available to comment on that incident.

Witnesses said hundreds of Islamist gunmen were trying to advance on the city, which is now home to hundreds of thousands of people displaced by unrest in other parts of Borno state.

They said a second blast hit the site while people were trying to rescue victims from the first explosion.

Seven people were killed and dozens were wounded in the twin blasts.

One witness, Ibrahim Bitrus, said, “I don’t know whether the groom is alive or not, because there was confusion after the blasts occurred.”

An AFP reporter who lives in the area said he heard what sounded like armoured personnel carriers deploying to the southern edge of the city to face the rebel advance.

Three senior security sources in Maiduguri who were not authorised to speak publicly said the attack had been repelled.

“All is under control. There is no cause for alarm,” one of those sources told AFP.

The sound of RPGs and gunfire had also eased, residents and an AFP reporter said.

Experts doubt that Boko Haram currently has the capacity to seize Maiduguri, but a major attack inside the city would likely be disastrous for civilians.

Maiduguri’s population of two million has swelled with hundreds of thousands of refugees.

The Islamist rebels have been flushed out of several Borno state towns they controlled in an offensive launched in February by Nigeria with backing from neighbouring Cameroon, Chad and Niger.

But there are signs of the militants regrouping, particularly in the remote parts of eastern Borno near the Cameroon border.

Buhari in his inaugural speech noted the successes of the four-nation offensive but said Boko Haram would not be defeated until operational command was shifted from the capital Abuja to Maiduguri.