A male suicide bomber blew himself up yesterday at a mosque in Gambouru, Borno State, killing 15 people, including his own father.
The suspected Boko Haram attack followed Saturday night’s assault on a military base in neighbouring Yobe State where five soldiers were allegedly killed, with 30 others missing.
The incident occurred around 5:00 a.m., as worshippers observed prayers.
The North East Zonal Coordinator of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Bashir Garga, said: “I can confirm to you that there was an attack in Gambouru Ngala, where 15 people were killed. A male suicide bomber carried out the attack. Some of our officials, the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), the military and the police assisted in the evacuation of over two dozen wounded persons to different medical formations in the town.”
Major General Rogers Nicholas, Theatre Commander of Operation Lafiya Dole, however, disclosed only five fatalities. “Our ground troops have already neutralised a suicide bomber at Rann, the council headquarters of Kala/Balge in Borno State.
“Yes, but only five (were) killed and another suicide bomber neutralised in Rann,” he said.
But a resident of the town, Yakubu Isa, insisted NEMA’s account of casualty figures was credible. “The suicide bomber hailed from Gambouru town. He disowned his parents and joined the insurgents in the bush. He entered the mosque, blew himself into pieces, and killed 15 persons including his biological father,” Isa said.
Garga added: “Another suicide bomber yesterday detonated an explosive behind the Dalori displaced person’s camp in Maiduguri, killing only himself.”
He urged members of the public to be “very alert and conscious as ever with strangers who come close to them.” He also said his team was “working on safety tips that we are going to distribute to people on the new trends of suicide bombings in the North East.”
Gambouru, a commercial hub on the border with Cameroon, is 145 kilometres northeast of Maiduguri, the Borno State capital.
The army denied it suffered any casualties in the Yobe attack. “Yes, there was an attack on our troops by Boko Haram terrorists. It was, however, repelled. Our soldiers are in hot pursuit of the fleeing insurgents,” Col. Kayode Ogunsanya, the spokesman of 3 Division, Nigerian Army, had said in Damaturu.
A credible security source, however, told The Guardian that about five soldiers were discovered dead and evacuated to Maiduguri, and that about 30 others were missing.
One eyewitness said the attackers arrived in seven vans. “We thought they were soldiers because everything about them was like soldiers, their dressing, their vehicles, everything. They passed through the town but did not touch anybody. They went straight to the military base. Then we started hearing heavy gunshots,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, yesterday expressed the confidence that the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) could defeat terrorists in all parts of the country.
At the CAS Awards Ceremony and Workshop for newly posted field commanders at NAF Headquarters, Abuja, Abubakar said: “We are living in extraordinary times with myriads of problems threatening to shake the foundation laid by the founding fathers of this great nation, and by extension, threatening to erode the labour of our past heroes.
“As Chief of Air Staff, I have had the privilege of commanding men and women who showed courage in the face of terror, exhibited strength where others saw fear, and applied ingenuity where others perceived impossibility. Most importantly, I have enjoyed the honour and rare privilege of serving under the selfless, visionary and resilient leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari.
“This combination of factors imbued us with the courage needed to win at all fronts as a force; be it against Boko Haram, terrorism in the North East or militancy in the South South, or security challenges nationwide.”