• 13 killed, 30 injured in double explosion
From NOAH EBIJE and ABDULGAFAR ALABELEWE, Kaduna
Two suicide bombers suspected to be members of the Islamist sect, Boko Haram yesterday succeeded in gaining entrance through the supposedly water-tight security into the barracks, Jaji, near Kaduna town. After beating the security post at the main gate of the cantonment, according to eyewitness, one of the bombers rammed into Saint Andrew Protestant Military Church at about 12.15 pm, killing many worshippers.
Shortly after the blast, another bomb exploded at about 12.20 at Saint Peters Catholic Church in the area, which sources within the barracks put the figure of the dead at 13 with 30 injured, adding that, “more people might have been killed by the two suicide bombers.” However, the Director, Army Public Relations, Brigadier General Bola Koleoso, who confirmed that 11 people were killed in the explosion, said: “There were twin suicide bombings today at the St. Andrew Military Protestant Church, Jaji Military Cantonment at 1205hrs and 1215hrs.
A bus first ran into the church and exploded about five minutes after service while a Toyota Camry parked outside the church detonated 10 minutes later. Figures of casualties not yet clear but the injured are receiving treatment at military hospitals both in Jaji and Kaduna.” This came barely 48 hours after the Joint Task Force (JTF) in Maiduguri placed N50 million ransom on Abu Shekau, leader of the Islamist sect to facilitate his arrest by anybody, just as similar bomb attack rocked St. Rita’s Catholic Church in Kaduna about three weeks ago killing about seven people and injuring over 140.
According to a source at the security point leading to the barracks, the bombers refused to subject themselves to security checks, saying, “we are in a haste, we are in haste, we are already late,” and they were allowed quick access into the barracks by the security guards. Eyewitnesses, who were junior rank soldiers who did not want their names mentioned in print told Daily Sun, “we saw a driver asking people the way to Saint Peters Catholic Church, and whether the church has closed for the day, and as soon as he was told that the church has closed for the day, he made U-turn and headed towards the next church, Saint Andrew Protestant Church.
The next thing we heard was a loud sound of explosion. We cannot remember again the type of car the bomber used. “And before we know what was happening, we saw people lying dead in their pool of blood, we started screening because we have never seen this type of thing before. The bomb affected an officer’s house. He must have been killed also. We saw several people dead and many people with serious injuries. They were immediately taken to MRS Military Hospital within the cantonment for treatment.
The military establishments that were located in this area included Armed Forces Command and Staff College (AFCSC), Nigerian Army School of Infantry (NASI), Infantry Corps Command College (ICCC) and Nigerian Army Peace Keeping Centre (NAPKC). The entire area was immediately cordoned off with security promptly beefed up, causing heavy traffic jams for travellers plying Kaduna-Zaria Highway.
This was even as the officials of the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) and National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) were turned back from the scene of the incident by the military authorities. “We don’t have any further information on the incident,” one of the officials said.