Azare Bomb Blast: A Tale of tears, blood and sorrow

For the third time in November 2014, Azare, the headquarters of Katagum Local Government Area of Bauchi State came under another deadly blast leaving several persons at a popular mobile phone market dead.

Most of those who died were said to be at the market to purchase phones and transact other businesses.

Although there was no inkling that evil was lurking around the corner, the attack did not come as a surprise to many because the town has become the target of insurgents and explosions occur by that time where there are multitude of people. KATAGUM DAILYPOST gathered that the area where the incident occurred is the biggest mobile phone market in Azare town and daily witness influx of customers, especially low income earners, who are attracted by the relatively cheap phones on offer.

The phone market which is adjacent another popular market known as Kasuwa Waya is new and one of the busiest in Azare. The market, it was learned, was littered with the burnt wreckage of motorcycles smeared with congealed blood.

As usual, the explosion left in its wake tears, blood and sorrow with 31 people confirmed dead and 65 others injured. The bodies of the dead were mostly dismembered with rescue workers, including officials of the State Emergency Management Agency, SEMA, having to pick what appeared as scorched body parts of the victims and conveying same to the Federal Medical Centre in Azare.

Recounting the horrors of the incident, some of the survivors said they lost their loved ones, while others narrowly escaped death as they were very close to the market when the blast occurred.

At the Federal Medical Centre in Azare, a relation of a dead victim (name withheld) who witnessed the arrival of ambulances from the scene of the incident bringing in the injured and the dead, told that his cousin went to the market to sell his phone which was giving him problem and unfortunately he met his death in the market.

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He said many survivors suffered various degrees of burns, while some had fracture on parts of their bodies. Those who could walk were aided by medical personnel, while those who could not were brought to the hospital on stretchers with security beefed up to check the influx of people.

According to him: “When I heard of the incident, the first person that came to my mind was my cousin because we spoke on phone and he told me that he was going to the market to sell his phone because it was giving him problems.

So I called his line, but it was not going through. After sometime I rushed to the Federal Medical Centre and begged the security men to allow me to go in.

I was watching as they brought in the victims and as soon as I saw my cousin’s body, I recognised him. He looked lifeless and hospital workers were conveying his body along with others to the mortuary. I just knew he was dead”.

Another resident of Azare who gave his name as Auwal Ibrahim explained how he escaped death saying: “I came close to the phone market, near one vulcaniser to pump (air into) one of my tyres that was going down; the next thing I heard was a loud bang. I immediately took to my heels.

“The blast was scary because it was very loud. I later met some people who told me a woman wearing Hijab with two other men came into the market. Their movements were suspicious and before you knew it, there was this explosion. They said the shattered body of the female suicide bomber was recovered from the scene of the crash.

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“They also said a certain man wearing a jumper shorts came with the female suicide bomber. After the incident, he was attempting to escape and someone who noticed him, alerted the crowd. The crowd chased after him and lynched him.”

Another survivor, Nasiru Mohammed who was selling dates known as Dabino in Hausa language, narrated his ordeal. He said: “I was selling my Dabino and I was walking very close to the mobile market, when I heard a loud bang. I became confused and I did not know when I threw my wheel barrow away and took to my heels. I ran as fast as I could to avoid falling into trouble. People were running in confusion and shouting out of fear. It was a terrifying experience I pray never to encounter such again.”

The former Chief Medical Director of Federal Medical Centre Azare, Dr. Abduallhi Ibrahim, told newsmen that the hospital recorded 17 deaths and 30 of the victims of the bomb explosion are on admission. Giving a breakdown of this, he said of the 17 that died in the hospital 14 were victims of the explosion and three were suspected suicide bombers.

He confirmed that doctors and nurses defied Joint Health Workers Union strike to attend to the victims of the bomb blast and that the patients were responding to treatment.

The Police Public Relations Officer, Bauchi State Police Command, confirmed the lynching of a suspected insurgent by a mob.

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He confirmed 13 persons dead, while 65 sustained various degrees of injuries out of which 43 were treated and discharged, and 22 others are responding to treatment.

He added that the scene of the explosion was cordoned off by Police explosive ordinance disposal unit, while casualties were evacuated to the Federal Medical Centre Azare for medical attention.

Haruna disclosed that normalcy has been restored in Azare by combined security forces and patrols are being intensified within and outside the town.

Reacting to the development, Former State Governor, Mal. Isa Yuguda, condemned and described the blast as an act of terror which was most unfortunate. He commended the courage of the youths who came out to arrest one of the suspected suicide bombers.

He promised that government would collaborate with security agents in the state to ensure that lives and property are protected, adding that the people too have complementary roles in the fight against insurgency. He called on everyone to be vigilant, particularly in areas where people gather for businesses and social engagements.

Sympathising with all those who lost their loved ones, he also assured those injured of prompt and the best medical attention at all the medical centres in the state.

He also called on community and religious leaders to intensify prayers for divine intervention in the situation because, according to him, it was only God that can adequately intervene to bring the activities of the insurgents to a total stop. He added that government, on its part, would continue to do its best to provide security to the people.

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