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How suicide bomber killed 21, injured 45 on bloody Sunday

| June 7, 2012 More

By Suzan Edeh

IT was indeed a day of pain, grief and lamentation for Christian worshippers and residents of Yelwa Tudun community, a suburb of Bauchi State. For many, last Sunday was a black and bloody one following a bomb attack at the Living Faith and Harvest of Field church.

Oblivious of the tragedy waiting to happen that fateful morning, most Christians thronged their usual places of worship for Sunday service at the ever-busy Yelwa Tundun area.

Again, based on the increased presence of security operatives deployed in the area to forestall possible attack arising from an earlier security alert, nobody envisaged that a suicide bomber could penetrate the supposedly secured area to carry out a successful attack. The unfortunate incident which claimed the lives of 21 persons and injured 45 others, occurred at around 9.30 in the morning after the close of the first service at the Living Faith Church.

Prior to the Sunday attack, a threatening text message of an imminent attack was sent to residents in the state and it read thus: “I am in Air Force Base Kaduna now; there is serious talk in the barrack that Bauchi churches and … environs will be attacked tomorrow. Please pass it to (as) many as you can”.

Sam Itodo, a member of the Living Faith Church said he was close to the scene of the bomb blast that Sunday Morning. He told Vanguard Metro that he narrowly escaped death because he was 20 metres away from the scene of the blast.

He said: “After the first service ended, I left the church premises because I wanted to give my bike to my younger ones so that they could go home. After they left, I decided to trek to the house since it was not very far. It was not up to 20 minutes when I heard a loud bang that almost deafened me. I was about 20 metres away from the church when the bomb exploded. I thank God for sparing my life and that of my younger ones”.

An eye witness who refused to disclose his name said he had heard stories of bomb attacks, but on that day, he saw death starring him on the face. He said: “The suicide bomber came to the security check point of the Living Faith Church in Honda car. When he was approached by the security operatives for checking, he refused to stop; instead he ran and hit the security gate of the church and immediately the bomb he was carrying in his car detonated.

“The explosion killed and injured people who were close to the scene of the blast. I was lucky to escape because I was selling at my shop which was not very far from the church. There was confusion as residents and church-goers tried to flee. Because of panic induced by fear, some of them fell into the fire caused by the explosion”.

Another witness, who requested anonymity, said a presumed accomplice tried to flee from the scene after the blast went off and was later chased down and killed by enraged residents, although police could not confirm this account. Residents said the explosion caused the church building to collapse, prompting dozens of people to flee, seeking refuge; but some ran straight into a fire raging outside.

Joint internal security
Confirming the incident to newsmen in his office, the Bauchi State Commissioner of Police, Mohammed Ladan, said: “On June 2, the joint internal security operation in Bauchi State revealed that there will be multiple attacks on churches within  Bauchi  metropolis.

Based on this, there was visible deployment of security personnel around the target areas. As a result of the blast nine people were killed, including the suicide bomber and 27 people were injured and are presently receiving treatment at the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa Teaching Hospital, ATBUTH, Bauchi.”

The Police boss also disclosed that one Improvised Explosive Device, IED, intercepted under the bridge, near Dass Motor Park, was defused by Police Anti-Bomb Squad.

CP Ladan, however, called on the people to remain calm and go about their normal activities because the Police and other security agencies are on patrol within the state metropolis. He, however, advised parents, guardians, religious and community leaders, and members of the public to eschew violence and avoid attacking innocent people in the state.

He urged them to be vigilant and give useful information to security agencies to ensure that those involved in the incident are brought to justice.

CAN accuses Army
The Bauchi State Chairman of Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, Rev. Lawi Pokti, had, during a press conference at the COCCIN Headquarters in Bauchi, accused the Nigerian Army of acts of judicial killing of unarmed and aggrieved relations of victims of the blast. He condemned the dastardly act, describing it as evil, satanic and executed by devilish terrorists who parade themselves under the canopy of Islam.

Pokti said: “At press time, 21 people have been confirmed dead, out of which 12 died as a result of the bomb blast, while nine were shot dead by the military who went to the blast site to maintain law and order. A total number of 45 persons have been confirmed wounded out of which 25 were wounded by the bomb blast and 20 sustained various degrees of injury from gun shot from the military”.

The CAN chairman said that as much as the Christian community appreciates efforts of the state government in responding to the bomb incident by taking the wounded persons to the teaching hospital for emergency help, it utterly condemned the extra-judicial killing of innocent civilians, most of whom are women and children.

He said: “We declare that the security agents have no moral, ethical and empirical justification to open fire on the women, youths and children who came out to mourn their loved ones. We see this act as extra-judicial killing worthy of remorse by the Nigerian Army.”

Rev. Pokti called on authorities of the Nigerian Army to claim full responsibility for the killings and compensate families of the affected victims. But he urged Christians in the state not to embark on any reprisal attack, saying that it will constitute a criminal act and a violation of the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. The CAN chairman then prayed God to give the affected families the fortitude to bear the loss.

While visiting the scene of bomb attack, the Bauchi State Governor, Isa Yuguda, described the act as barbaric and man’s inhumanity to fellow men, assuring that his government would go after the perpetrators until they are brought to book. He declared that his administration will rebuild the Harvest Field Church as well as the Living Faith Church and other structures around the area that were damaged.

Governor Yuguda who was accompanied on the sympathy visit to the scene by the State CAN Chairman, Revd Lawi Pokti, as well as Bishop Oyedepo, General Overseer of the Living Faith Church Worldwide, lamented the monumental loss of lives and property in the blast, declaring that his administration will bring succour to all those who lost their loved ones. He added that his government had already picked up the medical bills of the injured.

The governor said the perpetrators were neither Christians nor Moslems because, according to him, none of the two religions preaches violence but peaceful coexistence and being brothers keepers, stressing that the time has come when all Nigerians should put aside religious sentiments and join hands to fight all forms of terrorism in the country.

Category: Bauchi State News

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