by Stanley Azuakola
Gradually, Nigeria is getting to the point where terrorism is viewed in the same way as corruption. Like something which although undesirable, is so strong and pervasive that we just have to endure and adapt to.
As has become the norm, Sunday was another day of bloodshed in the North, this time in the North-Western State of Kaduna as the sound of bombs disrupted the worship service in three churches in the state.
The suicide bombers struck thrice. The first blast was in the Evangelical Church of West Africa (ECWA) church, Wusasa, Zaria; the second at the Christ the King Cathedral Catholic Church at No. 80 Yoruba Street, Sabon Gari, Zaria; and the third blast was at the Shalom Church at Trikania.
A new dimension was introduced however when Christian youths responded to the blasts by staging reprisal attacks. They took to the streets with cutlasses and sticks and other weapons. They also burnt several commercial motorcycles and vehicles in High Cost, Ungwan Pama, Narayi, Ungwan Muazu, and other parts of the metropolis.
In all, witnesses say about 40 deaths have been recorded so far as a result of the blasts and the ensuing protests which followed.
A pastor of one of the affected churches said a suicide bomber in a blue Honda Civic salon car crashed into the building from its front, damaging its structure. He said three people died on the spot. Hospitals in the Kaduna metropolis and Zaria were flooded with the victims of both the bomb blasts and the ensuing protests.
At Christ the King Catholic Church, eyewitnesses claimed that three suicide bombers drove to the gate at 8.45 a.m. but were stopped by security personnel attached to the church. Two of the bombers allegedly attempted to escape, but were intercepted and set ablaze by a mob. It was the third bomber who set off the bomb he carried and died instantly with one of the security personnel.
A few minutes after the incident, another explosion occurred at Shalom Church in Trikania in southern Kaduna at 8.55 a.m. The blast forced youths in Gonin Gora, Kaduna-Abuja Expressway, Angwar Sunday, Sabon Tasha, and Television Village to go on rampage and burnt some worship places.
In response, the state government quickly imposed a 24-hour curfew to bring the situation under control. Soldiers of Operation Yaki took charge of the situation.
An official of Saint Gerald Hospital confirmed that they were “receiving more victims in the hospital and the medical personnel are attending to them.
“So far, we have 10 bodies deposited here, and over 50 of those injured are being treated in the hospital. The number is still rising, so, I cannot give the total figure now. What we need is blood donation for those to be taken to the theatre. And I have personally contacted the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) over our plight and they promised to respond soon.”
The Police Public Relations Officer in the state, Aminu Lawan, described the situation as unfortunate. He said: “There were incidents of bomb blasts in Zaria and Trikania. After the incidents, we had information that some youths trooped to the streets and caused more problems. This happened around Sabo Tasha, Rigasa and other places.”
Lawan assured that security in the state has been beefed and the 24-hour curfew was to prevent the situation from getting worse.
On his part, the Senior Special Adviser to the Governor on Media, Mr. Reuben Buhari, in a statement said that Gov. Patrick Yakowa “condemned the bombing of three churches in Wusasa in Zaria and Sabon Gari local councils and Trikania in Chikun Local Council of Kaduna State.
“While regretting the unfortunate incidents, the governor conveys his deepest condolence and sympathy to all those affected in the bombings. In view of the incidents and the need to forestall further break-down of law and order, the state government has imposed a 24-hour curfew in the whole state.
“The curfew starts with immediate effect until further notice. Government regrets the inconveniences this drastic measure will cause to all and sundry. But the state government considers this necessary to avert further loss of lives and property in the state. The state government has directed the security agencies to enforce compliance.”
No group has so far claimed responsibility for the attacks.