29 killed in suicide bomb attack on procession
Twenty-nine people died yesterday in the mid-day suicide attack on Muslim Shiite sect members celebrating the Ashurah Day in Potiskum, Yobe State, eyewitnesses said.
The suicide attack took place at Tsohon Kasuwa, a densely populated area in the commercial city. It is 100km south of Damaturu, the state capital.
But the police put the figure of the dead at four, including the bomber. They said five people were injured.
The leader of the Shiite group, Mallam Mustapha Lawan Nasidi, said 29 members of the group were killed; over 80 injured.
Lawan blamed the military for the rise in the death toll, alleging that 'many of the people were killed by security agencies, particularly soldiers'.
'From what we have gathered, 13 people were brought in dead. The death toll has kept on increasing. Right now, we have about 29 bodies and 82 people injured. It is unfortunate that soldiers are responsible for the killing of many of our members. They used their guns and armoured cars to shoot at our members. The police asked them not to shoot people but they did not listen. We have shells of bullets that they used in killing our people .This is very bad because the people who are supposed to be protecting us are now killing us.
'This is not the first time we are marking this day. We have been doing it since the past 20 years. We did it last year and nothing happened. Do we also have to start taking permission from security operative to be going to Mosque on Fridays? I want to believe that the number of people that were in that procession was not up to the number of people that go to mosque on Friday. So, why must we go to security for such a very peaceful event which is not a political gathering?' He said.
An eyewitness, Ibrahim Mohammed whose brother was killed in the attack said he counted 23 bodies, including his brother's.
'I have counted 23 bodies right now. My brother is also one of the people killed in the attack. All the bodies are now deposited at the school belonging to the Shiite sect,' Ibrahim disclosed.
He added that some of the people killed were not from the suicide attack but gunshot from security agents who invaded the scene of the attack and started shooting sporadically.
Another eyewitness, Adamu Yunusa, said there were two suicide bombers marching along with the Shiite members in the procession before one of the bombers detonated the explosive wired body. The second bomber was caught in an attempt to detonate his.
'This incident took place a few meters from my house. The explosion was heavy and scary. It was as if it took place right in my bedroom, I came out and saw people running all over the road and there was confusion. One of my brothers in the procession told me that the suicide bombers were two. That the other one was trying to trigger his bomb and was caught by some members but taken away by soldiers who came to the scene,' Yunusa said.
Yunusa added: 'It is unfortunate that some of the people that were killed were not as a result of the blast but soldiers who came to the place and were shooting directly at innocent people. If you see some of the bodies, they are clear gunshots and not suicide bomb attack. Most of the ones that died from the blast were either roasted or shattered.'
Yobe State Police Commissioner Danladi Markus said: 'It is unfortunate that these people went on to carry out the procession without informing security to assist in beefing up security around them and the suicide bomber took advantage of the situation to strike. We pray for the repose of the souls of those that are dead and a speedy recovery for the injured people.
'I want to call on the people to cooperate with security agencies to fish out bad people in our midst. You can see the endorsement of the governor that took place during the weekend was a big occasion but it went on smoothly because of the security measures we took.'
Governor Ibrahim Gaidam condemned the attack, describing it as 'heinous, barbaric and unwarranted'.
In a statement by his Special Adviser on Press Affairs and Information, Abdullahi Bego, Gaidam expressed regrets that the attack came when peace was returning to the state.
The statement reads: 'His Excellency has condemned the attack in which many lives were lost and injuries sustained, as heinous, barbaric and unwarranted.
'The governor regrets that the attack came at a time that peace is generally returning to the state.
'The governor notes that those behind the attack are criminals who want to fan the embers of religious discord. He called on all the people of the state to remain calm and vigilant.
'His Excellency Governor Gaidam has prayed the Almighty Allah (SWT) to grant eternal repose to those killed in the attack and quick recovery to those who have sustained injuries.
'The governor has also directed government hospitals in the area to provide immediate medical treatment to all victims of the attack free of charge.' The Nation