THREE suspected terrorists were reportedly injured yesterday in Damaturu, Yobe State when an object believed to be a bomb exploded on them.
The incident came barely 24 hours after the arrest of Mohammed Aliyu, another suspected leader of the Boko Haram sect and three others by the police in Kano.
The explosion allegedly occurred in a house at Gidan Gwaba area of Pompomari ward of the Damaturu metropolis at noon when the wounded were planning to attack police and military formations with the substance. Damaturu is 455 kilometres East of Kano.
Another blast also occurred in Kaduna yesterday with three suspects and some victims arrested by the police.The explosion in the suburb of the city caused pandemonium with hundreds of residents running to the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA) barracks about two kilometres away for safety.
The Police Command said the residential house that submerged under the explosion after the blast was believed to be the manufacturing site where the suspects engaged in the production of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs).
In Plateau State, fresh bomb threats forced thousands of residents to flee their homes.
Jos, the state capital, was worst hit as non-indigenes capitalised on the situation to leave in droves for their home states for the Christmas and New Year celebrations.
The development raised fears that Jos may turn to a ghost town if security agencies especially the Special Task Force (STF) fail to rise to the challenge of assuring the people that the metropolis was safe for them to live and do business.
The Yobe State Police Commissioner, Tanko Lawal, told journalists yesterday that some of the suspected bombers had been arrested.
He said: “Today’s (yesterday) bomb blast went off when three suspected Boko Haram bombers were assembling their Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) to attack unspecified police and military formations in the state.”
Asked whether arrests had been made, Lawal said: “Yes, the wounded bombers were arrested after we received a distress call from a member of the public as soon as the explosion blasted. Our officers and men were dispatched to the area for ‘house to house’ search and prevention of further attacks by the suspects.”
He said one of the injured suspects was taken to the hospital for treatment while two others, who had burns are allegedly on the run.
The police chief said his men were on their trail and promised to bring them to book.
Lawal also said the police had recovered three units of Kalashnikov rifles, ammunition, weapons and bomb-making materials from the affected house located two kilometres east of the Emir of Damaturu’s Palace.
Other materials and documents found in the house, according to him, included a Hilux Toyota vehicle, three units of motorcycles, and a driver’s licence.
The Kaduna command’s Police Public Relations Officer, Malam Aminu Lawal, said: “We believed the residential house that collapsed under the explosion is the place where the victims and suspects who are now with us produced the IEDs.
“Investigation on the incident is going on now and we shall keep the public informed as we progress.”
Lawal also confirmed that some arms and ammunition were recovered from the affected house and the victims.
The bomb, which exploded at 1:30 p.m. on Ibrahim Rintiyi Street, Unguwan Magaji, Kawo, also affected about seven buildings in the area.
Though no death was recorded, three persons believed to be occupants of the house, who ran out of the building were covered with blood. They where chased and held by locals who later handed them over to the police.
When journalists visited the scene at 3 p.m. yesterday the place was filled with smoke bellowing from house.
The insecurity fear in Plateau heightened when information filtered into the town that there was an attack in Jol village in Riyom Local Council where one person was killed and his body allegedly taken away by the assailants.
The non-indigenes who had been worried over the blast threats may have seen the attack on Jol village as the beginning of another round of bombings by the people who issued pamphlets threatening to unleash terror on areas before December 26.
The state capital yesterday witnessed mass exodus of people to places deemed as safer than Jos.
Both the spokesman of the STF, Captain Charles Ekeocha and the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Assistant Superintendent Apev Jacob, declined to comment on the situation.
The Special Adviser to the Governor on Media and Publicity, Mr. Pam Ayuba, confirmed that he received a text message from a police officer in the area, who drew his attention to the attack in Jol village.
He said the incident occurred last Friday at 8.30 p.m. and not on Saturday.
Ayuba told The Guardian that the police officer, who witnessed the attack, claimed that a 39-year-old man was killed and his body could not be found as the attackers allegedly went with it.
He said the two persons who were injured by the invaders were admitted in a hospital in Jos South Local Council. “Two people were critically wounded in the attack. No houses were burnt. This incident happened at 8.30 p.m. on Friday. The assailants were said to have left with the body,” Ayuba stated.
Prof. Pam Sha of the Department of Political Science, University of Jos, also confirmed that the attack happened on Friday and not Saturday as reported by some newspapers.
He said some suspected Fulani herdsmen stormed the community and burnt firewood in the area. He said this drew the attention of the residents, who rushed to the scene but the herdsmen thought they were out for a reprisal attack. The situation, according to him, degenerated to a confrontation leading to the death of the victim.
Sha said the STF troops immediately came in to quell the crisis.
Also yesterday, a man was caught by some residents at Gada Biu when he allegedly attempted to blow up the only flyover in the state. The suspect was however left to go without being handed over to the security agencies.
At the ever-busy Plateau Riders’ Motor Park, thousands of people were seen with their belongings travelling out of the sate. Some of them told The Guardian that they were leaving the state because they valued their lives more than possessions. They added that they were going to their home states and neigbouring communities to Plateau to celebrate the Christmas and New Year as well as watch the unfolding scenario after the Yuletide.
The travelers who were mostly Igbo and Yoruba said if the bombing continued as threatened, they would return to Jos to pack their belongings because “enough is enough.”
They accused both the state government and the STF of not being pro-active enough in nipping the violence in the bud.
“The authorities will only tell the people after lives have been lost that the government is not deterred by the atrocities but that it is capable of ensuring and guaranteeing safety of life and property of the people. This, the government says after each incident with loss of life and property. Also, the security agencies would always say that they are on top of the situation and yet violence is on the rise. So, I am going to my Imo State. If things improve, I will come back and stay. If the situation continues like this, I will return to pack my belongings and leave the state,” one of the fleeing residents said.