Nigeria: Gombe Violence – Over 40 Explosives Planted

Gunmen suspected of being Boko Haram Islamists killed a dozen people when they razed a police station after failing to storm a jail in Gombe, police said yesterday.


The city was put under lock-down, with no residents allowed to leave their homes, after the gun and bomb attacks in a botched attempt to free inmates, just as there was a bomb scare inthe residence of a minister in Abuja.


"The gunmen had attempted to break into the prison near the police station and their attempt was unsuccessful, but they succeeded in burning down the police station," police chief for Gombe State Gandhi Ebikeme Orubebe told AFP.


"So far 12 people have been killed in the bomb and shooting attack, 10 of them were civilians and two policemen," he said, adding that the police station had beenblown up with bombs.


Eye witnesses said over 40explosions went off about the same time in the town, saying it was a coordinated attack. They said they counted 14 bodies.


Stiffer Measures to Avert Boko Haram Bombs Near Police Stations



The dead bodies of ten police men and four civilians, according to them, were sighted at the Gombe State Specialist Hospital around 8 a.m., yesterday, while morevictims and corpses were being received in the hospital and other health facilities in the town.


It was also gathered that some of the explosions went off while Muslims were observing the 8p.m. prayers at the Gombe Central Mosque situated at the large premises of Emir of Gombe Palace, adjacent the police division, the scene of the explosion.


A resident of the city, Mallam Adamu, who spoke on phone, said that many people thought that a civil war had ensued when the explosions were heard.


Meanwhile, Governor Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo declared a 24-hour curfew in the state.


Dankwambo called for calm and prayers just as he pleaded with the people to be law abiding. He also sympathized with the families of those who lost their lives and those that sustained injuries.


The capital city witnessed unusual calm and silence and streets remained completely deserted following the curfew while only police and military personnel wereseen carrying out their duties.


The incident caused a complete lock down of all business activities in the town.


On January 5, Boko Haram attacked a Deeper Life Church in Gombe killing over 10 persons and leaving over 20 others critical wounded.


Just when the people had thought that Gombe was becoming safe and peaceful, the explosions occurred, Friday night, reminding the people of the ugly incident. No-one has claimed responsibility for the attack. Islamist sect Boko Haram last week said it was behind a prison raid in central Kogi State, near the capital Abuja, which freed 119 inmates.


Boko Haram, blamed for a wave of recent raids in northern and central Nigeria, has repeatedly claimed its members are being illegally held in state prisons and demanded their release.


Many of Boko Haram's recent attacks have targeted the police, but suspected members of the sect also gunned down five worshipers inside a mosque on Friday as evening prayers ended in Kano.


Boko Haram's violent campaign has intensified in recent months and, on Thursday, Nigeria's top military chief said the group had formed links with Al-Qaeda's north Africa branch, known as Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.


"I have seen at least 14 burnt bodies in and around the police station," a witness in Gombe said earlier on condition of anonymity.


He said he counted 10 bodies inside the police building, while four others were found dead in a burned out car outside the station.


Orubebe said the prison raiders were "repelled by our men guarding the place, then they came to one police station and fired a lot of guns and also threw bombs." Boko Haram, whose name means "Western education is sin" in the Hausa language, had previously targeted Christian worshipers in Gombe.


The sect launched an uprising in 2009 in Africa's most populous nation, which was put down by a brutal military assault that left some 800 people dead.


After lying dormant for about a year,the group has re-emerged with a series of shootings and bomb attacks that have killed around 1,000 people. Its deadliest assault left 185people dead in Kano last month.


The group also claimed responsibility for a Christmas Day bomb attack on a Catholic Church outside the capital Abuja that claimed at least 44 lives, and a suicide blast at UN headquarters in the city that killed 25 in August.


Bomb scare


In the meantime, there was pandemonium in Abuja, yesterday, following a bomb scare at a private residence of the Federal Capital Territory Minister, Senator Bala Mohammed, located at Garki II area of the territory, when two unidentified youths reportedly dropped an undisclosed item inside a car parked at a private hospital directly opposite the minister's residence.


Eyewitnesses said the two youths, who drove into the street in the evening in an exotic car, walked into the hospital on the street where they broke the windscreen of a car belonging to a patient and parked inside the hospital, dropping a substance wrapped in a black polythene bag inside the car and bolted away.


The resultant alarm from the damaged car attracted its owner and other residents in the area who,on sighting the substance inside the car, scampered for fear that it could be a bomb. Their fears were heightened by the fact that the invaders immediately drove away after planting the unknown substance in the car.


An eyewitness said within minutes, the whole street was deserted as everyone ran for their lives, including the team of mobile policemen guarding the minister's residence, and sick patients inside the hospital.


Shortly after, a police team from the anti-bomb unit arrived and sniffed the scene for bombs, after which they made away with yet unidentified substance. The entire street was subsequently cordoned by policemen.


When contacted on the incident, the FCT police public relations officer, Jimoh Moshood, declined to comment on the matter, saying "I am not aware of that incident", in spite of reports that his boss FCT commissioner of police, Michael Zuokumor, later visited the residence of the minister, who is currently on official assignment in China, to ascertain that all was well


Via AllAfrica

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