Daily Trust (Abuja)

27 April 2012

Nigeria: How Suicide Bomber Hit ThisDay Office

The suicide bomber who rammed into the Abuja offices of Thisday newspaper yesterday was first denied entry at the back entrance before he drove in through the main gate in an Isuzu sports-utility vehicle, witnesses said.

Two people, as well as the bomber, were killed when the explosion occurred at about 11.07am at the newspaper office, which was opposite the busy Utako Motor Park.

Most journalists were not in the office at the time of the incident. The two dead people were security guards, officials said, while 13 others were injured, among them a 12-year-old kid.

Shortly after in Kaduna, another bomber struck a business premises where three newspapers including Thisday have offices. Two were killed, but the bomber was subdued by people around and was handed over to security agencies.

Witnesses said the Abuja bomber crashed his sports-utility vehicle into the press hall of the Thisday office, destroying the main building in the premises.

Impact of the explosion shook the building and destroyed window panes as far as a kilometre away, while a deafening sound was heard further away.

When Daily Trust reporters visited the scene of the blast, the suicide vehicle was seen crumpled while the bomber's body was burning out.

Some decapitated body parts were also seen strewn in the vicinity.

Soon after the blast, street urchins looted the smouldering remains of the Thisday offices. They were seen scrambling and taking away electric fans and other items.

How Kaduna bomber was subdued

In Kaduna, the blast happened at about 11.30am at the SOJ Plaza, housing offices of Thisday, Moment and Sun newspapers, along Kontagora Road. Three people were killed while many sustained different degrees of injuries.

One of our correspondents, who was at the scene when the bomb detonated, said the bomber came in a Honda Academy car with registration number AL 306 MKA.

A victim of the blast said a man parked and locked the car in the premises, and attempted to run, telling people to be wary of bomb. People around the area chased and caught the man. They asked him to remove the car from the plaza.

"Instead of the man to remove the car, he detonated the bomb, killing himself and other two people," a witness said.

Another account of the incident said there were two bombers, and the one who didn't die was handed over to the police.

Owner of the plaza, Alhaji Suleiman Jaiyeola, said one of his staff was injured and was receiving treatment at Hope Hospital. He said the explosion has shattered the glasses of the building.

Hours after the explosion at SOJ Plaza, another blast occurred at Angwan Muazu in Kaduna South local government area.

A witness told our correspondent that two men came into the area on a motorbike and attempted to plant the bomb.

"It was in the process of planting the bomb that it exploded, injuring both men. No one lost his life," a witness said.

How the incidents happened, by SSS

In a statement in Abuja, the State Security Services narrated how the two incidents targeting newspaper offices happened.

"On 26th April, 2012, about 1100 hours, a dark green coloured Isuzu Jeep wired with bombs, forced its way into the premises of Thisday Newspaper, at Jabi, Abuja and it detonated killing the suicide bomber," spokesman for the SSS, Marilyn Ogar, said.

"Meanwhile, two persons and the suicide bomber are confirmed dead while 13 persons were injured and are currently receiving treatment.

"Also, at 1100 hours, two persons in a cream coloured Honda Accord (Academy) car with registration number AL 306 MKA, drove into SOJ Global Communications and Investment Limited Plaza, located at R9, Kontagora road, Ahmadu Bello Way, Kaduna which houses correspondents of The Sun, Thisday and Moments Newspapers.

"One of the assailants, Umaru Umaru Mustapha, an indigene of Maiduguri, Borno State, alighted the car with a container of Improvised Explosive Device (IED). He was immediately challenged by two gallant Nigerians following which he threw the bomb at them and it denoted killing them instantly. Subsequently, Mustapha pulled out a pistol and fired several shots in the air in an attempt to escape.

"He was however caught and subdued by brave members of the public who refused to be intimidated and handed him over to security forces. Nine (9) persons were injured and are receiving treatment."

'Misguided, horrendous, wicked'

President Jonathan described the attacks in Abuja and Kaduna as "misguided, horrendous and wicked."

A statement by presidential spokesman Reuben Abati said Jonathan, who is in Cote D'Ivore for the ECOWAS meeting, reaffirmed the commitment of the Federal Government to continue to uphold citizen's constitutional rights to freedom of expression and of press freedom in particular.

He said that criminal elements bent on instilling fear in the minds of Nigerians and foreigners would not succeed.

Claim of responsibility

A news website, Premium Times, last night claimed to have spoken to a purported spokesman for Boko Haram claiming responsibility for the attacks yesterday.

Daily Trust could not independently verify the authenticity of the report.

Boko Haram's style of issuing statements has been through teleconferences or posting YouTube videos. There was no such message from them yesterday.

The Premium Times report quoted the purported spokesman for the sect, Abul Qaqa, as saying that it attacked Thisday Thursday to send a message to the media that it would no longer condone reports misrepresenting it in the press, or blaming it for acts it knows nothing about.

"We have repeatedly cautioned reporters and media houses to be professional and objective in their reports. This is a war between us and the Government of Nigeria; unfortunately the media have not been objective and fair in their report of the ongoing war, they chose to take side," Qaqa said.

Abul Qaqa was reported to have been captured in Kaduna in February, while another person who took over the nom de guerre was reported to have been killed earlier this month.

"They (Thisday) once insulted the Prophet Mohammed in 2001 and we have not forgotten. They recently said our Imam executed me which is false. Here I am speaking to you, I am alive and healthy," the report yesterday said.

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