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Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Jos Terminus Market Bomb Blast kill 118

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After a brief respite, Jos returned to its bloody way yesterday, with two bombs going off in the Plateau State capital city.
The explosions occurred in the highly populated shoes market section of the Terminus market along Murtala Muhammed Way within 20 minutes interval.
“The exact figure of the bodies recovered as of now is 118,” Mohammed Abdulsalam, co-ordinator for the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) in the city, told AFP.
He added that “more bodies may be in the debris” of buildings which collapsed due to the intensity of the blasts.
Fifty-six people were injured in the twin blasts, said Abdulsalam. The military said improvised explosive devices were hidden inside a truck and a minibus.
No group has claimed responsibility for the explosions.
The huge impact of the explosions, which occurred at peak hour in the afternoon, reverberated kilometres away, throwing the entire city into panic.
Jos was a boiling point during the long-running clash between Hausa settlers and the Berom before peace was restored in the hilly city.
Yesterday’s explosion followed Sunday night explosion in Sabon Gari, Kano in which five people died.
The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) declared the blast as “catastrophic”.
“I can’t tell you the figure of those killed by the blasts now, because we are still evacuating bodies from the scene.
“The only thing I can say is that the casualty figure is very massive. It is a catastrophe,’’  told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).
The first explosion went off in the centre of the market around 3.28 p.m. The second followed about 14 minutes later.
Abubakar said both explosives were loaded in parked cars.
“The bombers parked the cars and left the explosives to detonate. It was in the market and at a peak period. So, you can only imagine what could have happened,’’ he said.
He said bodies were being deposited at the old and new Jos University Teaching Hospitals and the Plateau Special Hospital.
“There are also a massive number of people injured. We have conveyed some to various hospitals,’’ the NEMA official said.
He said an idea of the number of casualties was only possible after the rescue operation.
“We will have to first finish the operation and then visit the various hospitals. For now, we are only picking bodies all over the place,’’ Abubakar said.
Plateau Police Commissioner Chris Olakpe said there were “46 dead, 45 injured”, a figure believed to be a gross under estimation of the casualties.
Security agencies, NEMA, Red Cross and other humanitarian organisations launched a rescue battle in which only a few were saved.
Over 20 bodies were burnt beyond recognition. They were brought to the morgue at the Plateau Specialists Hospital, Jos.
The Jos University Teaching Hospital (JUTH) and the Bingham University Teaching Hospital (BUTH) were jammed by residents who came in search of their loved ones. The two tertiary hospitals received more bodies than the injured.
An eyewitness account said a bus loaded with bags of maize was parked by unknown persons. The bags of maize were used to conceal the “apparently timed” explosive device.
Another eye witness account said a Vectra Opel car was parked carelessly. Two young men, who were seen alighting from the car, disappeared into the crowd of traders and their customers. Shortly after, the explosive went off.
The explosions set the entire city in disarray. Banks, shops and other businesses were hurriedly closed. People ran in various directions. Some stood by the victims, calling for help.
Letters allegedly written by the Boko Haram sect were received in Jos a few weeks ago. The letters were said to convey threats of attack. Many government and public institutions were mentioned as targets of attack. Those targets include Plateau State House of Assembly, National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies, University of Jos, and Federal Government College, Jos, among others.
The said letters placed citizens and security agencies on the alert, but yesterday’s attack caught everybody, including security agents unawares. The attack came at a target not mentioned in the threat letters.
The Plateau State government expressed shock at the attack, but pleading with citizens to remain calm.
Commissioner for Information Olivia Dazyem said: “The two explosions took the state unawares and came at a time government had restored total peace in the state.
“There are casualties recorded but the actual figures cannot be ascertained immediately as rescue operations are still going on and security agencies have been drafted to all parts of the state to avoid violent reactions from citizens who are hurt by the explosions.
At Plateau specialists hospital and Bhingham University Teaching Hospital, many residents were rushing to identify their loved ones.
The government said it was “not in a hurry’’ to release the casualty figures.
“The casualty figures have not been ascertained because the figures are still being collated from various hospitals,’’ Mrs. Dazyam said.
She, however, said the figures would be made available “as soon as possible’’.
“Full investigation has begun on the incident. But we want people to be calm and pray, especially for the victims.
“We also want everyone to support the authorities in these trying times,’’ she said.
Maj-Gen. Dave Enetie, Commander of the Special Task Force (STF) in Jos, could not give details of the causality.
An eye-witness, Peter Amine, said the first explosion went off in the centre of the market. The second followed about 14 minutes later.
“We were inside the market when I heard a loud explosion at about 3:28 p.m.
“Before I knew what happened, a vehicle part landed just by my legs,’’ a visibly shaken Amine told NAN.
He said that a thick dark smoke engulfed the scene, thus compounding the already chaotic situation as horror-stricken persons ran in all directions.
Police chief  Olakpe said: “But, most importantly, there are lessons to be learnt in this terrorists’ attacks. When a primary explosion occurs, there is greater possibility of a secondary explosion. So citizens should learn not to rush to scene of primary explosion because it is meant to gather more casualties for the secondary explosion.
“The second lesson is, when an explosion of this magnitude occurs, there will by flying objects which are capable of causing more casualties. So citizens should lie down as soon as they heard the explosion.
“The third lesson is that citizens should avoid rushing to the scene of explosion. They should give an interval of 30 minutes before going there because, if there will be a secondary explosion, as it happened in this attack, so many people that will fall victim.
Olakpe denied that the security agencies were caught unawares by the attacks. He said, “We were not caught unawares. The issue of terrorism is what I call ‘secret conspiratorial’ it is something that involves the vigilance of everyone. It is not issue of security agencies alone; let all hands be on deck. Every citizen should take interest in their own security.”
Olakpe added: “The market portion of the attack has been cordoned off and the market suspended for now. Security agencies will sweep the area in the next two days.”
President Goodluck Jonathan expressed dismay at the blast in a statement by his spokesman Dr. Reuben Abati.
House of Representatives Speaker Aminu Waziri Tambuwal described the attacks as acts of cowardice that had no place in civilised societies.
In a statement issued by his Special Adviser on Media and Public Affairs, Malam Imam Imam, Tambuwal urged security agencies to redouble their efforts to fish out perpetrators of the attacks. He urged the public to provide the security agencies information that will help their investigations.
He urged Nigerians not to despair, saying the security challenges bedeviling the nation will soon be a thing of the past.
The Northern States Governors Forum (NSGF) urged Nigerians, especially those living in the Northern, not to lose hope due to the persistence of attacks by members of Boko Haram.
The forum also advised people not to be despair about the development stressing that “tough time don’t last but tough people do”.
Chairman of the forum and Governor of Niger State Dr Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu promised that leaders at all levels were doing their best to ensure that terrorists are defeated.
In a statement signed by Chairman of Northern SSGs Forum and Secretary to the Niger State Government Saidu Idris Ndako Kpaki, the forum expressed regrets that the murderous act happened when security agencies were doing their best to stop the killing of innocent citizens.

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