Potiskum Blast: 29 Killed, 80 Injured

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At least 29 persons were yesterday confirmed dead and 80 others seriously injured after a suspected Boko Haram suicide bomber targeted a religious procession of the Shia Islamic brotherhood in Potiskum town of Yobe State, officials and witnesses have said.

LEADERSHIP had officially been informed by hospital sources in Potiskum that 22 persons were instantly killed in the blast, while five others died as a result of bullet injuries sustained during the shooting that followed the blast.

A medical staff member of Potiskum General Hospital, who spoke to LEADERSHIP but wishes not to be named, said two other injured persons later died at about 6pm yesterday.

According to the source, “In all, we have 29 persons dead, comprising of 16 children and 11 adults, of which 24 of them were male and three female.

“Immediately after the blast,we were able to evacuate 22 persons that were killed by the bomb, while five others died of gunshots, but we have over 80 persons that sustained various degrees of injures either as a result of the blast or gunshots.”

A witness told LEADERSHIP that the bomber had approached a gathering of the Shia Muslim Brotherhood near one Fadiya Islamic School when they were about to embark on the annual procession to mark the Islamic Ashura Day and pretended to be part of the assembly, but suddenly detonated the explosive vest that he wore.

A member of the Shia group told journalists that he lost three of his sisters in the blast.

Yobe State police commissioner, Mr Danladi Markus, who confirmed the incident to journalists, said only four persons died.

A survivor, who narrowly escaped the blast, said apart from the 22 persons killed, most of the persons that either died or got injured were those hit by bullets coming from the soldiers who responded by firing sporadically, a claim that has not been verified by the authorities.

Yobe State governor, Ibrahim Gaidam, in a statement issued by his spokesman, Abullahi Bego, described the attack as “heinous, barbaric and unwarranted.”

Gaidam said it was sad that such an attack was coming at a time the state was celebrating the return of what seemed a sustained peace and promised to foot the bills of all those affected by the bombing.

He also sympathized with the families that lost their loved ones to the blast.


Eyewitness account

Confirming the incident, leader of the Shi’ite group in the state, Mustapha Lawan Nasidi told Hausa service of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) that security operatives opened fire immediately after the explosion, but it was not clear who they fired at or if they hit anyone.

The attacker had joined the line of Shi’ites before setting off his device as they marched through Tsohuwar Kasuwa area of Potiskum town.

The worshippers had gathered outside a seminary in the city, after visiting the palace of the emir, witness told the news agency

A resident of the town said many followers of the sect, especially women and children, died in the explosion.

“I heard a very heavy explosion as if it happened in my room. It took place just 200 metres from my house,” he said.

Also confirming the incident, the state Police Commissioner, Markus Danladi, said the bomber took advantage of the procession to detonate the bomb.

“Yes, a suicide bomber was among the Shi’ite group and detonated his explosive device, killing members of the group,” he said.

Shi’ites worldwide yearly mark the 10th day of the Muslim new year as the festival of Ashura, an event that defines Shi’ism and its rift with Sunni Islam.

The festival is used to commemorate the slaying of Al-Hussein the grandson of Prophet Mohammad (SAW) at the battle of Karbala in 680. AD.

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