Details of the weekend bomb explosions in Maiduguri, Borno State emerged yesterday as residents and rescue officials said at least 50 people died in the twin blasts while another 39 were killed in another attack on Manoik, a village near the state capital by suspected Boko Haram terrorists. Death toll may have risen to 100Twin blasts targeted at a shopping centre and a viewing centre at Gomari-Bintu Sugar area of Maiduguri occurred at about 6.05pm on Saturday.
Scores of football enthusiasts who were watching the evening English Premier League matches were caught by the explosions believed to have been hidden in a truck loaded with firewood and parked near the viewing centre by the terrorists. The residents yesterday told the Deputy Governor, Zannah Mustapha, during his visit that 46 people died on the spot while over 60 injured persons were rushed to hospitals within the metropolis. Hospital sources also said some of the victims later died yesterday even as some were said to be in critical condition.
Mustapha expressed the sympathy of the governor and the government to the people, adding that government would always identify with them in their period of grief. He said the governor directed him to express his condolence to the bereaved. He promised that government would assist the victims and those whose shops were destroyed by the explosions to assist them return to normal life. He directed the Chairman of Maiduguri Metropolis Council (MMC) to compile a list of affected persons to help government plan its palliative support for them.
The residents said they saw a truck loaded with firewood parked near the shopping centre unknown to them that the vehicle was carrying bombs. “We didn’t know it was going to be the source of our sorrow,” a resident said amid tears. According to an account, two men reportedly alighted from a truck loaded with firewood, “opened the vehicle bonnet as if trying to fixa fault” and disappeared from the scene in a jiffy. “The truck exploded about 10 minutes later,” sources said. Some residents who were around the area rushed to the scene ostensibly for rescue mission but the second bomb went off immediately. “It was the second blast that killed many people because those who moved toward the first scene were mostly affected,” Aji Musa, a resident said.
The development prompted troops to launch stop and search operation in the city early yesterday to track down possible movement of arms and improvised explosive devices (IEDs) into the city. Many residents said they were jolted by the discovery and return An official of the National Emegency Management Agency (NEMA) said many people died and injured but declined to give exact figure, insisting he is “not authorized t do so.” He said both NEMA and Red Cross Society collaborated with the police to rescue those suspected to have been trapped. He, however, said no more corpses or victims were discovered in yesterday’s rescue operation.
In another attack in Mainok, along Maiduguri Damaturu road, about 39 people died in the incident involving explosions and sporadic shooting, security sources said. Mainok is about 55 kilomteres from Maiduguri. A resident, Mansur Buba, said gunmen suspected to be Boko Haram laid a siege on the community at about 8pm. “We were still discussing the bomb explosion in Maiduguri when we started hearing gunshots and explosions everywhere. Almost all our houses have been burnt. This morning (Sunday), we have recovered 39 bodies,” he said.