The death toll in Wednesday’s bombing in Kaduna has risen to 82 as insurgents attempted to kill former head of state, General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd) and an Islamic cleric, Sheikh Dahiru Bauchi, who both escaped unhurt, Vanguard reports.
There were two bomb blasts which happened in the space of two hours. Police said 25 people were killed in the first blast, but eyewitnesses told newsmen that about 40 died in the blast. Not less than 50 people were also reported to have died in the second bomb attack suspected to have been perpetrated by Islamist sect Boko Haram.
Buhari had announced the attempt on his life in a statement he issued immediately after the incident, where he narrated how the suicide bomber tried to carry out the deadly assignment.
The first bomb attack took place on Isa Kaita Road, off Ali Akilu road around 12:30pm, yesterday, when the convoy of Sheikh Dahiru Bauchi was returning home after a Ramadan Tafsir sermon. Bauchi had about three weeks ago escaped a bomb attack near his home in Eskolia quarters of Kaduna.
The second blast took place around 2:30pm, about two kilometres away from the scene of the first blast at the busy over-head bridge at Kawo part of Kaduna town as Buhari was making his way out of town.
Speaking to newsmen at the scene of the first attack, Kaduna State Police Commissioner, Umar Shehu said: “All I can say is that the Kaduna State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) and Road Safety Corps have told me that they recovered 25 corpses from this place. But you can see that we still have some human remains here. I cannot tell you the number of those injured at this point. That is all I can say”.
An eyewitness, Isa Saidu, 23, who spoke to newsmen however said he counted 41 bodies following the blast.
“I was at the Murtala Mohammed Square where Sheikh Dahiru preached to us. I was also in the convoy conveying him back home. It was a long convoy. Suddenly, I saw a man on a motorcycle carrying a sack or bag. He was driving very recklessly and defied the instructions of our security guard, who attempted to make him slow down. He then tried to come close to the car conveying the Sheikh but the security did not allow him,” he said.
“As he persisted, they pushed him off the road and he fell into a ditch, while the bomb device he was carrying exploded. I don’t want to say what happened. Sheikh Dahiru Bauchi’s body was covered with blood, but it was the blood of those who were protecting him. I can swear by Allah that I personally counted 41 bodies. It is the most terrible thing of my life.”
An eyewitness of the second blast, who is also an aide to Buhari in his account said a man in a Sienna car had trailed the convoy of General Buhari from where it took off.
“The car overtook other cars and came very close to the SUV in which the General was. His security details tried to get in-between, then the Sienna car exploded.
“The security men’s car was destroyed, and the three men were severely injured. The General’s car was damaged badly, but because it was bullet-proof, he came out unhurt, and was transferred to another car and taken away,” he said.
Although a reported said not less than 50 people died at the scene, CP Umar Shehu said after visiting the scene “I am told that 14 people were killed and four were injured. I am told that a VIP car was affected, but I am yet to confirm to you. I shall update you in time”.
Kaduna State Governor, Alhaji Mukhtar Ramalan Yero, in response to the attacks imposed a 24-hour curfew on Kaduna town after the blasts.
In a statement signed by his Director-General, Media and Publicity, Mallam Ahmed Maiyaki, the governor said the blasts were clear manifestations of the resolve by ‘agents of darkness’ to soak the land with the blood of innocent people for no just cause.
“Enemies of peace have visited us with their ungodly venom of wanton destruction of human lives.
“This blast, coming in the Holy Month of Ramadan is a clear indication that those behind the act have no iota of fear of God, as they have none for the sanctity of human life,”Yero said.