Home » Headlines, Niger Delta » Bomb Blast Rocks Abuja Barracks, 11 Feared Dead – MEND claims responsibility

Bomb Blast Rocks Abuja Barracks, 11 Feared Dead – MEND claims responsibility

No fewer than 11 people were reported dead yesterday when a bomb blast hit the Mammy Market of the Mogadishu Military Cantonment popularly known as Abacha Barracks in Abuja.

Our reporters gathered that the blast occurred in the heart of the roasted fish section of the market at about 7:30pm, leaving three people dead on the spot. Our reporters saw three corpses being conveyed to the Asokoro General Hospital mortuary. Injured survivors were also moved there for medical attention.

The bodies of a pregnant woman, a young man in his early twenties and another man who should be in his forties, were carried into the mortuary. Some of the dead had their legs blown off. Our reporters saw dismembered parts of the dead and a very thick pool of blood in the vehicle which was used to convey the corpses to the mortuary.

Medical personnel were seen matching limbs of the deceased as they were being moved into the mortuary. Relatives of some of the dead cried and thrashed uncontrollably near the mortuary as the corpses were being removed from a pick up.

Due to the congestion at the hospital, the head of the medical team advised that fresh cases be taken to the Wuse General Hospital some twenty kilometres away, adding that the hospital had already been alerted.

Although a report by the Cable News Network, CNN, placed the number of the dead at 11 as confirmed by a police source, eye witness accounts maintain that over twenty lives may have been lost. No official figure was released by the government.

Efforts to ascertain the exact figure failed, as none of the military officers at the entrance of the market, which had been cordoned off, was willing to speak to our reporters about the incident.

In a swift reaction, President Goodluck Jonathan denounced the attacks. Speaking through his spokesman, Ima Niboro, Jonathan said: “Tonight, evil people, determined to turn the joys of fellow Nigerians to ashes, detonated a bomb at a barracks market in the Federal Capital City. Basking in their nefarious success in Jos on Christmas Eve, they have once again knifed at the heartstrings of a nation decked out in gaiety, celebrating New Year’s Eve. This is extreme evil. It is wicked. It defies all that we believe in and stand for as a nation”.

The President commanded the nation’s security services to rise to the occasion and arrest this new and dangerous challenge to the country’s peace and stability. “There shall be no sacred cows. All, no matter how remotely connected to these incidents, must be brought to justice. They must be made to pay. No one, and we repeat, no one, can make this nation ungovernable,” he said.

Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Air Chief Marshal Oluseyin Pentirin, who visited the scene minutes after the blast, confirmed there were casualties, but declined to give a figure. The CDS described the blast as devilish, saying it is a matter of time before the perpetrators of the heinous crime are brought to justice. “It is the same type of incident that we had in Jos and it is very unfortunate. Somebody who does not love peace has planted a bomb where others were having a happy time. These are devilish people, but it is a matter of time and they will be captured,’’ he said.

This newspaper noticed that the military and other uniformed men, who numbered more than one hundred around the barracks gate, were largely uncoordinated and confused as no single person seemed to be in full charge. Several ambulances and vehicles of military officers were locked in a quasi traffic jam at the entrance of the barrack.

Earlier in the day, our reporter noticed that vehicles of the army, police, the National Security and Civil Defence Corps and vehicle inspection officers’ were stationed around the Central Area, Abuja. Various officers were seen inspecting every vehicles. Vehicles entering into the national mosque in Abuja were also thoroughly searched as if in anticipation of an incident. The entire area, from the Shehu Musa Yar’Adua centre to the Federal Secretariat and the entrance to Aso Rock Villa had a heavy presence of security operatives.

In a shocking development, a text message was yesterday circulated claiming that the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) was behind the attack. The message read: “Dear friends, please try to stay at home today. The bomb threats are real, we have sent this message to the police and SSS. Avoid Unity Fountain, Eagle Square and Millennium Park tonight. Failure to adhere to this message will have dire consequences like the Independence Day. A word is enough for the wise. There’s no point celebrating New Year with poverty and insecurity in the country as we enter the election year.Yours truly. Gbomo Jomo. MEND. “

The blast, which hit the Mogadishu cantonment, has been described by many as a direct threat to national security in Abuja. Several people around the scene of the incident said openly that the blast was another reflection of years of bad leadership in the country. An eye witness, Rabo Saidu, who was in the fireman’s uniform, and described as the FCT Commandant of the service said the incident was disheartening.

The director general of the National Emergency Management Authority, who was among the first government officials to get to the barracks said their evacuation effort was successful.

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