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Police: 21 die in Zaria blast

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 El-Rufa’i   begging, hawking
By Moh Bello Habib, Zaria,
and AbdulRaheem Aodu, Kaduna

Scores of people died yesterday when a bomb went off at the secretariat of Sabon Gari local government area, in Dogarawa, Zaria, Kaduna state, as state government workers gathered for a biometric verification exercise.
The bomb is believed to have been set off by a female suicide bomber.

An eyewitness told Blueprint that the incident occurred when a woman sidled into the centre of the crowd, joined the queue of workers in the guise of going for the verification and detonated an explosive device.
Over 100 people, including the woman, were killed, according to witnesses.

The witnesses explained that the workers’ verification exercise coincided with an inaugural address by the newly appointed chairman of the local government’s interim management committee.

The victims were mostly female primary school teachers from Kubau, Lere, and Sabon Gari local governments.
Our correspondent reports that many bodies were damaged beyond recognition.
The state Commissioner of Police, Alhaji Umar Usman Shehu, in company of the state Governor, Malam Nasir El-Rufa’i, said at the scene of the blast that 21 dead bodies were seen.
Addressing a crowd of onlookers at the scene, El-Rufai said he has deployed extra security agents to tighten security across the state, while banning street hawking and begging across the state.

The governor, who expressed sadness at the mindless attack on indigenes of the state, also upheld the ban on commercial motorcycle operation, popularly called achaba, in some parts of the state, while he urged residents of the state to stay away from large gathering of people and be security conscious always within their surroundings.

A statement signed by the Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to the Governor, Mr. Samuel Aruwan, said: “Terrorists detonated explosives that killed and injured several persons at the secretariat of the Sabon Gari local government council.
“The casualty count as at 12 noon yesterday is 25 including a two-year old child.
“Thirty-two injured persons are being treated at the Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital, Zaria and other hospitals in the city.

“The blast went off as the residents welcomed the new chairman of the interim management committee of the local government to his office at the secretariat.
“Some local government staff from Lere and Ikara were also undergoing biometric verification at the venue.

The Kaduna state government has expressed its sadness at this mindless attack on our citizens. It has condoled with the victims and is coordinating the treatment of the survivors. Malam Nasir El-Rufai, at the scene of the blast, sympathised with the direct victims and the residents of Zaria. He prayed Allah to grant the souls of the deceased victims’ peaceful repose.

“He condemned the attack as an inhuman act of terror, and he urged the people of Kaduna state as a whole to be vigilant, even as they preserve the peace. The governor said residents of the state should promptly report all suspicious persons and activities to the security agencies and community leaders.

The governor announced the deployment of extra security forces across the state. Malam El-Rufai urged the people of the state to shun large gatherings but, where that is impossible, to exercise and practise maximum vigilance and vigorous checks on persons, vehicles and luggage.
“The government has also announced further measures to enhance public security in the state.

All beggars and hawkers are to stay off the streets until further notice. Any beggar or hawker found on the streets will be arrested, until these measures are relaxed.
“In addition, government reiterates that the ban on motorcycle taxis (achaba) remains in force, and the law will be strictly enforced in this regard. The government hereby urges all citizens to report all suspicious persons and movements to the security agencies, and to afford these agencies their maximum cooperation.
“These measures take immediate effect.”

Our correspondent reports that there was a mix-up regarding the figure of the death toll from the incident.
Eyewitnesses said the figure was over 100 people dead, the police commissioner insisted that 21 died, while authorities of Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital, Zaria, where the victims were rushed to for medical attention, gave 25 as the death toll.

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