Army foils attempts to bomb 1 Div, Air Force in Kaduna•Suicide bomber killed •Bomber dressed in Army uniform – Army spokesman

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Written by Olawale Rasheed, Chris Agbambu, Kola Oyelere, Hassan Ibrahim and James Bwala, with Agency Report Wednesday, 08 February 2012

MULTIPLE explosions rocked Kaduna on Tuesday, causing serious pandemonium. The first occurred when a suicide bomber tried to force his way into the premises
of the 1 Mechanised Division headquarters of the Nigerian Army, Kawo, Kaduna, but was not allowed entry by soldiers.

Islamist sect, Boko Haram claimed responsibility for the bombings.

One of its members who claimed to be the “real Abul Qaqa” in a telephone conference in Maiduguri on Tuesday night said the group launched the attacks on where their members were being held.

The first blast occurred at exactly 11.45 a.m., followed by the second blast which occurred near the main gate of the Air force base at about 12.00 p.m. while the one at the Kawo bridge exploded at about 12.15 p.m. There was still the fear among residents that bombs might have been planted in other places.

An eyewitness said: “I was close to the scene to confirm the veracity of the 1 Division blast, when another one at the Kawo bridge exploded and that caused serious pandemonium, as people ran helter skelter for safety.”

The third blast was under the Kawo overhead and it affected three small buses that were carrying passengers. Those injured were taken to hospital while others left to cater for themselves.

At the time of filing this report, no individual or group had claimed responsibility.

The 1 mechanised division is the first of the army divisions established during the civil war and it is at the heart of army operations in Nigeria with the General Officer Commanding (GOC) in the lead among all others.

Also, the Air Force base is the premier military flying school in Nigeria.

Although newsmen were not allowed near the scene of the blasts, which was cordoned off by heavily armed soldiers, an eyewitness said the suicide bomber, who drove a Toyota Sienna car, was heading to the premises of the 1 Division, when all of a sudden the bomb exploded. The bomber was said to have been killed in the explosion.

The Nigerian Army on Tuesday declared that attempt to bomb the 1 Division of the Nigerian Army, Kaduna might not be unconnected with recent arrest of some Boko Haram key leaders.

The Director of Army Public Relations, Major General Raphael Isa, who disclosed this while briefing newsmen on the foiled suicide bombing attempt on the 1 Division of the Nigerian Army headquarters in Kaduna, said that very soon Nigerians would hear about the prominent Nigerians sponsoring the Boko Haram sect, and they have received fresh information that would lead to their arrest and the key members of the sect.

Narrating the incident to newsmen, General Isa said: “This morning, reports reaching us from headquarters of 1 Division Nigerian Army, Kawo, Kaduna indicated that there was a suicide attempt by someone dressed in military uniform driving a private car.”

According to him, the soldiers at the army division repelled the attack and were able to stop what would have been a suicide bombing at the frontage of the headquarters.

He said that after firing at the suicide bomber who tried to force his way, the bomb exploded and shattered the glass that adorned the frontage of the headquarters, adding that the suicide bomber was the only casualty.

General Isa urged members of the public to continue with their normal business and lawful activities, stressing that “Nigerians must also continue to partner with security agencies and provide valuable information that will help them tackle the menace of these misguided elements and any would-be mischief makers.”

He expressed gratitude to members of the public for all the information provided so far that had led to the arrest of key members of the notorious Boko Haram sect recently, adding that they were currently working on fresh information that would lead to the arrest of more sect members and their sponsors.

The army spokesman reassured members of the public that the attack would not deter its efforts at ensuring that life and property were secure and safeguarded by members o the forces as required of them by the Nigerian constitution.

On what the army authorities were doing about the proliferation of their uniform, General Isa said that the army was doing a lot and very soon, Nigerians would see a change in its mode of dressing and this would prevent illegal use of the army uniform.

He added that a team had already left Abuja for Kaduna to assess the extent of damage.

Also, the Nigerian Air Force spokesman, Commodore Yusuf Anas, informed newsmen that the Nigerian Air Force Base, Kaduna, was not affected by the Tuesday bomb blast.

The air force spokesman disclosed that a bomb canister was thrown about 50 metres from a gate of the base on Mando road.

Immediately security operatives comprising heavily armed soldiers, Air force, State Security Service (SSS) and the police barricaded the road leading to the scene of the blasts.

However, at the scenes of the blasts, official vehicles of State Emergency Management Agency, the Red Cross and military ambulances were seen conveying the injured to hospitals, but newsmen were not allowed to see the injured victims at the 44 Army Reference Hospital, Kaduna.

In another development, while military bases in Kaduna were being attacked, the military killed eight suspected members of the Boko Haram sect in a raid on an alleged hideout that sparked a five-hour shootout, an army source said on Tuesday.

The Monday evening raid on the outskirts of Kano was carried out as gunmen believed to be Boko Haram members bombed a police station in another city neighbourhood where they also shot an officer in the leg.

“The military succeeded in killing eight gunmen, arrested five others and discovered five high-calibre bombs and 15 other low-calibre bombs. All these are homemade,” said the military source, who requested anonymity.

Residents who visited the alleged Boko Haram hideout in Kano’s Mariri neighbourhood told AFP that parts of the floor were blood-stained.

The military source added that some members of the shadowy group escaped during the raid and that security forces found a large cache of guns and ammunition inside.

“The first indications are that this is an armoury for the sect,” he said.

The military also confirmed the explosions at the market but declined to give details.

In another development, another spokesman for the Boko Haram sect, who claimed to be the real Abul Qaqa and not the one in the custody of the State Security Service (SSS), told newsmen in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital on Tuesday that they had made progress in their various attacks recently in Maiduguri, Kano and Kaduna and that the group was planning massive attack on Sokoto State in no distant time.

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