27 November 2012

Nigeria: 'How Bombers Struck Jaji Military Church' - Death Toll Rises to 15

Photo: Vanguard
Boko Haram.

Kaduna — Mary Ibrahim, 36, a survivor of the Jaji military church attack, yesterday narrated how the two suicide bombers hit St. Andrew military protestant church on Sunday killing at least 11 persons and injuring over 30.

By yesterday, the death toll had risen to 15, according to the Commandant of the Armed Forces, Command and Staff College, Jaji , Air Vice Marshal Ibrahim Abdulahi Kure.

Speaking exclusively to Daily Trust at the St. Gerard Hospital, Kaduna, where she is receiving treatment, Mary said she was inside the church when the first bomber drove towards the car park.

"It was just few minutes after the church service that we saw a car coming towards the church. That time, choir members (Mary inclusive) were having rehearsal. Soon after the man passed, we heard a very loud and terrifying sound, and things in the church started falling on us. About 30 of us where in there," she said.

According to her, though the church service had ended when the bombs exploded, many church officials were still around, including the pastor and his wife.

She said: "There were ushers and choir members as well as some few church members around. The first blast happened near the chaplain office around the car park while the second one happened near the church gate. The bomb laden car was parked close to the gate.

"I saw many dead bodies and I think the casualty was higher from the bomb that exploded near the church gate. Nobody knows the exact number of people affected. Members of the Boys Brigade who were on guard at the gate had already gone home because the church service had ended," the survivor added.

Mary who is an official of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) attached to Igabi local government area of Kaduna State said she was taken to a private hospital when the MRS in Jaji was said to have been filled to capacity.

"I was moved from there down to St. Gerard hospital by my family on Sunday evening," she said.

When our correspondent went to the 44 Army Reference Hospital, where most of the injured are receiving treatment, military personnel barred him from seeing the victims. The accident and emergency unit of the hospital where the victims are was being guarded by heavily armed soldiers.

A retired colonel who is heading a security outfit in Kaduna State told our correspondent that only high ranking Army officers are allowed into the emergency unit.

"I cannot facilitate your entry into the emergency unit because only officers of the rank of Brigadier General upward are allowed in there," the officer told our correspondent in a telephone interview.

Around 12 noon yesterday, our correspondent saw the retired officer in the midst of serving Army officers by the entrance of the emergency unit.

Many other victims of the blasts, Daily Trust gathered, are receiving treatment at the Aero-medical (NAF Base Hospital) and MRS hospital in Jaji. Heavy security is mounted in all the hospitals.

Meanwhile military authorities yesterday confirmed that the death toll from the blasts had risen to 15. Commandant of the Armed Forces, Command and Staff College, Jaji, Air Vice Marshal Ibrahim Abdulahi Kure disclosed this when the Kaduna State governor, Mr. Patrick Ibrahim Yakowa, paid a sympathy visit to the formation.

He told the governor that the military was doing everything possible to avert recurrence of the incident.

"Security is being beefed up, not just in the College and Jaji, but across the whole state and the country at large to forestall such attack," he said.

Responding, governor Yakowa said the bombing of a church within a premier institution like Jaji is a wake-up call to security agencies in the country to continue to fashion out new solutions on how to curb the incidents of terrorism.

He also asked those engaged in the acts of bombing, killing and terrorism to embrace dialogue, adding that a platform exists for people to pour out their grievances.

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