A trader, Abraham Gabriel, who was a the scene moments after last Friday’s two deadly bomb explosions in the Kuje area of Abuja, Nigeria’s capital, has offered an intimate portrait of the gruesome scene. The explosions left 17 people dead and 30 critically injured.
Mr. Gabriel, who said he normally slept inside his stall at the market, reported “a loud sound that shook the ground, and a huge fire in the sky.” As he emerged from his shop, he saw people “running helter-skelter. I could not go [in the direction of the blast] because people were running away from the scene. But when I managed to get to the vicinity of the attack, I could not believe what I saw. I saw bodies of human beings scattered all over the ground. Hands and legs were cut off, human flesh scattered all over the area.
“There was no vehicle to evacuate the dead bodies and those that sustained injuries who were wailing in the pool of their blood. Soldiers were the first security agents to arrive. They managed to control the traffic, turning people away from the area. They had a hectic time controlling the massive crowd which kept trooping in to catch a glimpse of the incident.”
Mr. Gabriel disclosed that reprieve came the way of the victims when a vehicle arrived and conveyed them to the hospital, with the dead taken to the mortuary.
“One of the bleeding victims explained that a man came to a crowded suya (skewered peppered meat) joint and asked if anybody could help him change a 1000 naira note. Since nobody offered the change, the man asked the people to look after a bag he dropped to the ground, stating that he would go and look for change elsewhere. It was at that point that the bomb exploded, and there was confusion everywhere,” said Mr. Gabriel.
He said other security agencies, including National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), firefighters, the police, the anti-bomb squad and Civil Defense Corps, later arrived at the scene to take part in rescue operations.
The Divisional Police Officer in charge of a station in Kuje, Aliyu Sani, told reporters that a 15-year-old female suicide bomber detonated another Improvised Explosives Device (IED) in front of the police station. The officer said the girl bomber had failed to gain entry through the main gate because of the heavy presence of armed policemen on duty. According to him, the girl decided to climb the fence, but the bomb exploded in the process, leaving her as the sole casualty. He said no officers were injured in the blast.
The DPO disclosed that the police had arrested ten people from hotels, bars and other locations, but explained that the arrests were not necessarily tied to the blast.
A correspondent of SaharaReporters who visited the scene of the blasts said security agents had cordoned off the area. A security source disclosed that agents were searching for any undetonated bombs in the market.
Our correspondent reported that the usually bustling market was deserted, with traders ordered to keep away until security agents conducted their investigations.
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir David Lawal, visited the scene of the blasts and also the General Hospital, Abuja, to see victims under treatment. Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari, and the Commissioner of Police for the Federal Capital Territory, Wilson Inalegu, accompanied him.