A deadly explosion that ripped through a bus station in central Gombe Friday, killed at least 23 people and injured many more, the News Agency of Nigeria, has reported.
NAN quoted a hospital source as stating that at least 23 bodies were deposited at Gombe Specialist Hospital, while the injured were taken to other hospitals for treatment.
Police did not confirm the casualty figures, but the state police chief said three men suspected of planting the explosives as commuters gathered at the car park, were arrested.
The State Commissioner of Police, Kudu Nma, told journalists in Gombe that a vehicle with an inscription “Yobe Line” was suspected to have brought the alleged bombers to the park.
“A vehicle which was suspected to have carried the bombers who came in with Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) was recovered,” he said. “Unfortunately for them, they were caught when they were about to run away,” he said.
The explosion occurred at about 9.30 a.m. Friday at the busy Gombe Line Transport Services Limited.
Witnesses said there was pandemonium around the area immediately after the blast as hundreds of youth from different directions stormed the park throwing stones at security personnel and other rescue workers who were evacuating corpses and the injured.
The security operatives shot into the air to disperse the rampaging youths, they said.
Bags of Explosives
Abdulrahman Suae, a resident of the area, said he saw about five people evacuated to the hospital but could not confirm whether they were dead or injured.
Mr. Suae said he later visited one of the hospitals where he counted 10 dead bodies and many other wounded, among them women and school children.
Mr. Suae, who was at the scene of the attack but escaped unhurt, said three young men arrived at the station with bags full of explosives, unknown to commuters.
He said after the suspects delivered their “luggage”, they hurriedly left the bus and walked towards the entrance to the park.
“Before they could get out of the park the bomb had gone off and some people around the gate of the park noticed them and ran after them,” Mr. Suae said.
He said although police made some arrests, he could not categorically say if those arrested were the real suspects or not.
Audu Awwal, a Gombe line bus driver who narrowly escaped the blast, said he only just left the park to see a friend off at the gate when he heard the explosion.
“I couldn’t believe it when I heard the explosion, because I was just seeing a friend off when I had the explosion.”
Mr. Audu said he helped in moving victims out of the park and said at least 20 people died.