Boko Haram Warns of More Attacks after Blast at Police Hq

2011-06-17
THISDAY Newspaper

The first case of suicide bombing was reported by the police Thursday as the Inspector General of the Police Hafiz Ringim narrowly escaped what could have been an attack on him at Force Headquarters in Abuja.

Boko Haram, the religious fundamentalist group, promptly claimed responsibility for the blast, saying it now has in its fold freshly trained men who just retained in war-torn Somalia and have now been positioned all over the North to attack government offices.

In Borno State, four children were killed in yet another bomb attacked linked to Boko Haram.
Pandemonium broke loose at the Force Headquarters when an explosive device went off, killing the suspected purveyor and some unidentified persons.

The Force Public Relations Officer (FPRO), Mr. Olusola Amore, a Deputy Commissioner of Police (DC), said a Mercedes Benz 190 was following the convoy of the Inspector General when a traffic warden was asked to direct the vehicle to the car park. Amore said it was during a discussion between the occupants of the vehicle, whom he called suicide bombers, and the traffic officer that the device exploded, claiming only the two suspects and the traffic officer died.

The police have since marked the number up to five deaths, with 33 vehicles burnt beyond recognition and 40 damaged beyond repair. The Louis Edet House was not left out of the damage with shattered window glasses.

A police officer said the bomber, who was in a car with a passenger behind, was trailing the Inspector General, driving behind his convoy, but a traffic warden at the Louis Edet House prevented him from doing so.

The traffic warden, it was learnt, guided him into the parking lot inside the headquarters, where his device detonated with a deafening, deadly explosion shortly before 11 am. One of the police officers said he was just passing by the lawn, moving towards his office inside the Headquarters around 10:45 am, when suddenly he heard a loud bang. The officer added: “When I managed to look back the whole place was
covered in a mist. Thick smoke and fire followed immediately.

Everybody started running helter skater, not knowing what to do again. I managed to run towards the helicopter park, where I saw shredded
pieces of human flesh litter the ground. I can tell you that over 10 people died because many people were at the car park, while some were
just parking their cars. It was a gory sight.”

Although Amore had claimed in his address to journalists that only two people died, the THISDAY team on the ground counted six bodies,
including that of the driver who drove the bomber, bagged by the personnel of the National Environmental Management Agency (NEMA). THISDAY checks revealed earlier that some dead bodies were shredded, posing difficulty in recognising the remains of the dead victims.

Amore said it suspected the Boko Haram sect had a hand in the bomb explosion, adding that the group had earlier given hint of an attack on the police. The leadership of the sect was said to have issued a press statement in Hausa language, warning civilians to steer clear of government buildings and establishments in the northern parts of the country, as well as the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja.
The sect also threatened to deal with the IG, and Borno State government officials, and that Nigerians should expect worse treatment
from them.

This was sequel to the statement attributed to Ringim, who while in Maiduguri, Borno State capital, was quoted to have said the days of
the Boko Haram were numbered, threatening to deal with the sect. When asked if Ringim should resign following what a foreign correspondent called an embarrassment to the country, Amore said on the contrary, Ringim has been on top of the situation requiring the arrest of the activities of the sect, wondering why the foreign correspondents did not ask George Bush to resign following the al Queda attack at the twin towers.

When THISDAY visited the National Hospital, Abuja, only one police officer was seen in the Emergency Unit of the hospital. He was later taken for X-ray. The situation was worse at the Asokoro General Hospital, where the six dead bodies were brought inside the hospital in an ambulance with registration number CT 165 A10.

The dead bodies in black nylon bags were later taken to the mortuary at about 2.35pm. About 12 victims who sustained injuries were also brought into the hospital for treatment.

Though, some of them had minor injuries, the health condition of the other victims was still uncertain. All efforts by THISDAY to speak with the hospital officials were abortive as they would not want to make any comment on the incident.
In Borno, four children were killed by a bomb at a residential building in Damboa town about 87 kilometers from Maiduguri, even as
scores of others were reportedly injured in the explosion.

This is barely a month after about 70 gunmen suspected to be members of the Boko Haram sect attacked a police barrack and a first
generation bank in the same town, killing 10 persons. The explosion, it was gathered, occurred at about 2pm at a house which is beside a church.

Though the identities and ages of the victims could not be ascertained as at the time of filing this report, sources in the quiet town
revealed that they were all children. When contacted, Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) in Borno State, Lawal Abdullahi, confirmed the explosion to newsmen. Meanwhile, a Boko Haram's spokesman claimed responsibility for the Police Headquarters explosion in an interview yesterday with Voice of America (VOA).

Spokesman Usman Alzawahiri said the blast was their handiwork. “We are behind it and we are going to attack the entire North and other parts of the country, including the capital, Abuja,” he said, adding that Boko Haram personnel just returned from Somalia five days ago and have been scattered around northern parts of the country.

 

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