NIGERIA. Gunmen Attacked University Church Service killing 26 Christians (Update)
Gunmen who stormed an early morning Christian worship service in Bayero University Kano, BUK, yesterday, killing two professors, five academic doctors and 9 others came fully armed with improvised explosive devices, (IEDs), and AK-47 rifles.
An eyewitness, who said he narrowly escaped death in the hands of the killers, said the attackers came with the aim to wipe out every member of the congregation. He said that after the attackers had thrown the explosive devices inside the church, they opened fire on the church members who attempted to escape.
There are conflicting reports as to the exact number of professors that were killed. One account mentioned three. But Reuters, BBC, VOA and other news mediums mentioned two. The university spokesman, Alhaji Mustapha Zahradeen, was however categorical that only Professor Andrew Leo was killed. Informed sources have however informed LEADERSHIP that among the dead were Dr. Sylvester Ada of Information Science department. Other victims include four doctors as well as post-graduate and undergraduate students of the university and other church faithful.
The eyewitness said the gunmen, numbering about 20, came in motorcycles popularly called achaba and attacked the faithful while they were holding a service at 8.45am in a lecture theatre at the old site of the university.
The witness disclosed that members of the Joint Military Task Force (JTF) later arrived at the scene of the attack and engaged the attackers in a gun battle. It was not clear whether any of the assailants was killed or arrested.
Another eyewitness claimed that no fewer than 20 people died in the attack. He said that the bandits came in a motorcycle and first lobbed two hand grenades inside the sports complex prayer venue then targeted the members of the congregation who were scampering for safety.
JTF spokesman Lt Ikedichi Iweha said military operatives were deployed to the area to restore order. He, however, refused to give details of the attack.
Although the university spokesman told our correspondent that the actual casualties were seven, an eyewitness said he saw rescue operators evacuate 18 corpses.
Zahradeen, who said the school authority had recently outsourced an external security outfit to complement that of the school, explained that the gunmen who stormed the university premises on motorcycles took everybody unawares. He said that it never occurred to them that such an attack could happen.
The spokesman further disclosed that many students and other worshippers were critically injured and rushed to the Mallam Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital where there was heavy presence of security personnel.
Iweha, who described the attackers as highly sophisticated, said before his men arrived at the scene the gunmen had fled, as the entire area including Dorayi, Karshen Wire, and BUK Road was cordoned off. He said the measure was part of the security strategy to get at the suspects.
The police in Kano have also confirmed that seven people died and many others injured in the Sunday bomb attack on worshippers at Bayero University, Kano.
The police public relations officer, ASP Magaji Majiya, said the injured were taken to Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital.
However, sources inside the State Security Service (SSS) and the Police Force headquarters have said that the attack in the Bayero University church took the operatives by surprise. According to the official who pleaded anonymity, the security outfits were still trying to grapple with the last Thursday bombing of ThisDay offices in Abuja and Kaduna when they got information of the current attack.
“We have still not come over the ThisDay attack in Kaduna and Abuja when this new one happened. In fact, the top hierarchy of the security apparatuses was still in a shock as to how the Boko Haram sect infiltrated the security network in the FCT with their bombs to wreck their havoc in ThisDay and so nobody knew where their next attack would be.
LEADERSHIP attempts to get reactions from the SSS spokesperson, Ms Marilyn Ogar, failed as she did not pick her calls.
However, NEMA officials who reacted through a text message said that their attention was drawn to explosions and gunshots at the old site of BUK campus in Kano, shortly after the incident, but said since they had no office in the state they had to mobilise response agencies and volunteers to the scene.
In the same vein, another official of the response agencies who preferred anonymity told our correspondent that the people that died were up to 17, but security agents had refused to allow free movement to the area.
The volunteer team noted further that they got to the place immediately the incident happened along with the Red Cross officials and other vital quick-response agencies, but the security operatives refused to allow them to go close to the area.
At the Mallam Aminu Kano Hospital and Murtala Muhammed Hospital where the remains of some of the dead as well as the injured were taken to, journalists and other civil society groups were denied entry.
Attack has breached peace – Kwankwaso
Kano State governor Rabi’u Musa Kwankwaso has described the attack on Christian worshipers yesterday, at the old campus of BUK, as an unfortunate and sad incident. He said that the incident had breached the peace that had been gradually returning to the commercial city after the January 20 attacks.
Governor Kwankwaso assured that both the state and the federal governments will continue to work hard to ensure prevalence of peace and harmony among residents of the state, adding that the state government has made arrangements with public and private hospitals in the state to ensure that victims of such incidents are treated satisfactorily.
Governor Kwankwaso, who lamented the loss of lives and property as a result of the attack on the Christian faithful, commiserated with the university authorities and its community over the tragedy and hoped that it will not recur.
The deputy vice chancellor (academic), Prof. Yahuza Bello, who conducted the governor round, explained that some of the worshippers were attacked in an indoor sports hall at the old campus of the university, which they use temporarily as a place of worship.
Prof. Yahuza added that the second group of worshippers was attacked while conducting the Sunday service in an open space outside the Dandatti Abdulkadir Theatre, which they hitherto used but which was currently undergoing renovation.
Gunmen kill Pastor, 2 other worshippers in Maiduguri
Meanwhile, gunmen yesterday shot dead a cleric, Rev. Albert Naga of Church of Christ in Nigeria (COCIN), and two other Christian worshippers during a church service in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital.
Spokesman of the Borno Police Command ASP Samuel Tizhe confirmed the killings during a telephone interview with journalists in Maiduguri yesterday.
He said, ” The reverend and two other worshippers were killed inside the church when the reverend went to administer Holy Communion to worshippers at the church today (yesterday).
“We got information that some gunmen came in a Volkswagen Golf car and shot at COCIN worshippers while they were about to receive the Holy Communion in the church. The church premises have been cordoned off and no arrest has been made yet.” ( 30 APRIL 2012 AllAfrica)