Boko Haram’s All-Out War

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Buses damaged by the blast

Boko Haram’s thirst for blood continues to confound the nation and the international community as the sect again strikes in Abuja on Monday, April 14, killing about 100 people, leaving hundreds of others injured

|  By Olu Ojewale and Vincent Nzemeke  |  Apr. 28, 2014 @ 01:00 GMT

IT STARTED like a normal Monday. As light gradually replaced the darkness of the dawn, bus stops were getting filled with early risers in pursuit of their daily bread. For every taxi or bus that came along, desperate passengers eager to commute to work pushed and shoved themselves in order to get a seat.

At the popular Nyanya Motor Park, the queue of commuters was getting longer. Civil servants, business owners, artisans and hundreds of ordinary people residing in the area were obtaining tickets and boarding the Abuja urban mass transit buses. None of them had any inkling  that it might be their last day on earth.

At about 6:55am when four of the buses were getting ready to leave the park, the unexpected happened. A loud bang from a Volkswagen car parked close to the buses set off a huge commotion that sent everyone scampering for safety. A bomb had exploded from it. The red urban mass transit buses and other vehicles around it were up in flames with passengers trapped inside. A thick black smoke enveloped the vicinity as tears, cries and blood flowed freely.

Jonathan and Mark at the scene
Jonathan and Mark at the scene

When the dust settled, more than 70 people laid lifeless inside and around the buses. Several others were bleeding profusely as a result of injuries sustained while they were trying to run for their lives.

About 30 vehicles including 10 of Abuja City buses, four of which were fully loaded with passengers, were burnt. Some of the commercial buses and cars parked around the vicinity were also burnt beyond recognition. The ones that were not torched by the inferno had their windshields smashed as a result of the impact of the blast.

It took about 15 long minutes after the explosion before emergency workers arrived. At that time, several more people had passed away as the locals battled hard to contain the inferno from spreading to other vehicles that had not been torched.

Many of the victims who survived with serious injuries were moved out of the park in wheel barrows by ‘Good Samaritans,’ while some people carried bleeding victims on their backs before depositing them in vehicles that took them to Nyanya and Asokoro general hospitals for treatment.

The bomb laden Golf car was in tatters. It threw objects around it in different directions and created a wide crater. Bags, phones, shoes and other personal effects littered the ground which was gradually turning red with pools of blood. Human parts littered the ground with many of the victims crying for urgent assistance.

Moments after the blast
Moments after the blast

Officers of the national emergency management agency, NEMA, police officers, officials of the Nigerian security and civil defence corps, NSCDC, and others who had arrived at the scene to help had to cover their noses in order to save themselves from inhaling the stench of burning skins and other foul odours that hung thickly in the air. It was horrible. In a twinkle of any eye, ambulances and pick-up vans were filled to the brim with dead bodies, many of which were burnt beyond recognition. Some angry youths were seen yelling at the drivers and other emergency officials who appeared slow in moving the dead bodies and survivors out of the scene.

By that point, it dawned on everyone that the dreaded Boko Haram sect, an Islamic fundamentalists group, was responsible for the attack. After almost two years of relative peace in the nation’s capital city, Abuja was once again under siege with the Nyanya explosion.

Giving account of the incident, Monday Ishaku, a fleet manager with the Abuja urban mass transit company, owners of the luxury buses that were destroyed in the explosion, told Realnews that he was lucky to have escaped. According to him, he had checked all the buses to ensure that the seats were all occupied before the explosion. “I cleared all the buses to move. But there was a golf car parked blocking the road and we were looking for the owner  to come and move it. We approached the man sitting inside and he said he was a passenger waiting for the driver who had gone to look for change.

About five minutes later, a guy returned to the vehicle and we had a loud explosion. The two of them were apparently suicide bombers and they died in the explosion,” he said. Ishaku added that some charms were recovered from the body of one of the suicide bombers while the other one could not be identified from the pile of dead bodies at the scene.

Frank Mba and other security officials
Frank Mba and other security officials

Esther Kwale, another eye witness, said she had left home early to board a vehicle to Minna at the Nyanya Park when the incident occurred. She said she had barely crossed the road separating the urban mass terminal from the Nyanya Motor Park when, “all of a sudden, I heard a loud deafening sound from the bus park and fire was everywhere. I have never seen such a thing in my life before. I was scared stiff. I was near death. You can’t stand the sight of human body parts flying everywhere,” Kwale said.

Ishaku and Kwale may have been eye witnesses but it was Kennedy Emmanuel, a popular beggar at the park who really had a close shave with death. For a man who lost one of his legs in a motor accident and now makes use of crutches to beg for alms, his survival was nothing short of a miracle. Emmanuel was on one of the buses when the blast occurred. It was the impact of the explosion that threw him out of the vehicle through the window but luckily for him, he survived without a scratch. His right crutch which was lost in the blast was recovered by one of the NEMA officials who were combing the scene for some missing items.

“I have never seen such a gory sight but I thank God Almighty for saving me. I would have died like others because I was actually in the bus begging for alms as I always do. After the loud bang, I opened my eyes and what I was seeing everywhere was blood, burnt dead bodies and pieces of human flesh, it was very bad,” Emmanuel said.

About an hour after the blast, many senior security officials arrived at the scene. Mohammed Abubakar, inspector general of police, was the first to arrive there. He was accompanied by Frank Mba, the police spokesman. Although Abubakar refused to address the press, he looked mournful and very sober as he inspected the scene of the explosion. The crater dug by the blast was cordoned by police officers who searched around for any evidence that could help them in  investigations into the explosion.

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