It was another sad day for traders at the Maiduguri Market, Borno State, as a bomb believed to be planted by Boko Haram terrorists exploded and killed no fewer than 50 persons and several others wounded.
The incident occurred at Kasuwan Shanu, the abattoir section of the market.
The police, however, said that the blast was carried out by a suicide bomber while some traders said that the bomb, which was concealed under a butcher’s table in the market, went off at about 1pm, killing the traders and travellers.
While residents and hospital officials put the casualty figure at 50, the police said that only five people died in the explosion.
According to the state Commissioner of Police, Aderemi Opadokun, the attack occurred at about 11.30 a.m.
bombHe said: “A suicide bomber, who was shouting ‘Sai Buhari’ and dancing in the abattoir, detonated Improvised Explosive Device strapped on his body when people had gathered around him. Five people, including the bomber, died while eight others sustained injuries.”
Opadokun added that policemen were mobilised to the scene to evacuate the corpses and convey the injured to the hospital.
At the time of filing this report, nobody or group had claimed responsibility for the incident, which followed two bomb attacks at the weekend that killed at least 30 people and bore the hallmarks of the Boko Haram sect.
National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, officials, who visited the scene of the attack yesterday afternoon, claimed that 10 people were killed while hundreds suffered various levels of injuries.
But sources at the State Specialists Hospital in Maiduguri said over 50 people were brought in dead while more of the injured were still being brought into the emergency ward, with some dying on arrival.
A health official, Mr. Lawal Kawu said 31 charred bodies had been evacuated to the teaching hospital in Maiduguri and several others were brought in with severe injuries.
Police and other security operatives immediately cordoned off the scene.
A police inspector warned reporters not to go further because so many suicide bombers were said to have taken over the road to Maiduguri during the battle with troops on Monday night.
He said: “All security agencies in Maiduguri are on red alert because these useless people according to signals we received have smuggled themselves into town with plan to embark on suicide bombing. Yesterday, about five suicide bombers were arrested at Tashan Baga and this one is another bad day for everybody. Please, for your safety, I beg you to go back because anything can happen. These bad eggs want to see where people gather to detonate another explosive.”
Witnesses said they heard a loud explosion, which shook their school building and had to run away.
“I saw military vehicles with soldiers moving toward the area,” Abubakar Mohammed, a college student a few meters away from the blast scene, claimed.
The blast came barely 12 hours some terrorists tried to enter the ancient city in the early hours of Tuesday.
According to eyewitnesses, the insurgents used rocket-propelled grenades, (RPGs) in the attack.
Meanwhile, Defence Headquarters, DHQ, has said it would soon relocate its Command Centre to Maiduguri in line with the directives of President Muhammadu Buhari.
At his inaugural speech, Buhari ordered the transfer of the command centre to Maiduguri until the Boko Haram insurgency is brought to an end, and Director of Defence Information, Maj-Gen Chris Olukolade confirmed that the military authorities were working round the clock to effect the directive in the shortest possible time.
Olukolade did not specify the date of the relocation but he confirmed that “the details and implementation strategies are being worked out.”