Borno Explosion: 31 killed as residents, security agencies give different narratives

Scene of the bomb explosion
Scene of the bomb explosion (Photo Credit: Sahara Reporters)

At least 31 persons were killed and about 48 others injured after suspected Boko Haram suicide bombers on Saturday attacked Abachari village in Damboa Local Government Area of Borno State, residents and witnesses have said.

The suicide bombers, said to be six by the army, reportedly targeted people returning home after a Sallah fair in Damboa.

The police put the casualty at 20 persons, saying 48 others were injured.

The Borno State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) spoke on the rescue efforts following the attack.

Yabawa Kolo, the chairperson of SEMA, said the agency had deployed its personnel to evacuate wounded persons to the hospital for quick medical attention.
“Our team has been deployed to render life saving support to the victims of the blast. As you can see,  they have been tirelessly working with ICRC since morning to evacuate the injured from the airport to the hospital.
“We are all saddened by the unfortunate incident that occured in Damboa,” she said.
The Borno State commissioner of police, Damian Chukwu, told journalists in Maiduguri that the explosion occurred at Abachari town, in Damboa Local Government Area, on Saturday evening.

“At about quarter to nine, yesterday (Saturday) night, a loud explosion was heard at Abachari village, along Damboa/Chibok road,” he said. “The DPO mobilised our men from the SARS and the Civilian-JTF to the scene and found 20 people dead and 48 others injured.

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“Some of the bodies were found shattered, indicating that the explosion came from an explosive device,” Mr Chukwu said.

The police have not been able to provide details on how the attack was carried out.

A medical personnel from the University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital confirmed to PREMIUM TIMES on phone that some of the victims were brought to the hospital.

“Other victims with less critical cases, we learned, have been taken to the Biu General hospital while some were admitted at the Damboa general hospital,” said the source who refused to be named because he is not permitted to speak with the press.

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An official of the Civillian-JTF told PREMIUM TIMES that “the total number of persons that died is 31; if we must say the truth.”

“But it is now difficult for one to come out and contradict what the police is saying that only 20 people died. If you want to know the truth, you can go to Damboa and find out the number of persons that have been buried today – it is not less than 31,” said the source who asked not to be named for security reasons.

Locals Blame Military
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that some locals alleged that the deaths arose from a misfiring by the Nigerian Army’s artillery. The army, however, denied the claim.
Buba Shettima, a witness, said two separate bomb blasts occurred in Shuwari and Abachari.
“The whole of Damboa was shaken  by the unfortunate incident. We all scampered for safety as the  blasts were  coming from different directions. There were  bodies everywhere.
“We suspected that the many deaths recorded were a result of the  military artillery,” he said.
Mohammed Hassan, another local from the area who corroborated the claim, said: “At about 8:30 pm of on Saturday night,  an attack suspected to be from an artillery killed 31 innocent people  in Damboa Shehuri and Abachari. The attacks came from two separate directions. My house was among some of the houses destroyed.”
However, Rogers Nicholas, commander of Operation Lafiya Dole, denied the claim, saying the killings were caused by  suicide attacks and not military artillery.
“There  was nothing like an attack from the military artillery. You can see the pictures of six female bombers who detonated their explosives and as a result, 20 persons were killed while others were injured,” he said.

Mr Nicholas, a major general, urged people to disregard the claim that the victims were killed by the military and not by suicide bombers.

The District Head of Damboa, Modu-Zannah Maina, who described the incident as “shocking and disturbing” said the attack was perpetrated by female suicide bombers.
Mr Maina lamented that a lot of people that were affected were mostly children adding that many victims were  injured.
“We are here in this hospital to check our people affected by Saturday’s bomb blasts. So far, the victims have been responding to treatment,” he said.

The Borno State government had on Thursday announced a half day vehicular curfew – from 6 p.m. to 12 noon on Friday – to prevent Boko Haram attacks. The curfew restricted Islamic worshipers to pray at Eid prayer grounds near their homes.

The Sallah celebration went on without any ugly incident in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, as well as other major communities in the state.

The Damboa incident came as an isolated incident that eventually marred the celebration.

Damboa is the closest local government area to Sambisa forest where Boko Haram used to have its largest and strongest fortress. The community is one of the most affected by the insurgency in Borno State.

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