By Ajani Okanlawon
At least 55 people were killed on Friday in bomb attacks on mosques in Borno and Adamawa states.
Twin bomb blasts killed 28 people during pre-dawn prayers at a crowded mosque in the Jiddari Polo area of Maiduguri, the Borno State capital around 5am..
Umar Sani, a civilian vigilante assisting the military in the counter-insurgency, and local resident Musa Sheriff both told AFP there were two blasts at the mosque.
“People from various mosques nearby rushed to the scene to assist the victims,” said Sani.
“I was involved in the evacuation. We counted 28 dead bodies apart from the two bombers, who were identifiable by the mutilation of their bodies.
“Over 20 other people were injured.”
Sheriff, who said he escaped with his life as he was late for prayers, gave a similar account.
Both men also said two other people were arrested and handed over to the military for questioning after they were seen apparently celebrating following the blasts.
The two men were “standing from afar, hugging each other like a celebration, chanting “Allahu Akbar” (God is greatest)”, said Sani.
“The rescuers apprehended them. They used ropes to tie them and they confirmed that two of their comrades carried out the attacks. They were unrepentant,” he added.
“To them it was a mission accomplished,” said Sheriff.
Spokesman of the youth vigilante Civilian JTF, Jubrin Gumda, initially put the toll at 11 people dead, while Abdulkadir Ibrahim of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) said six people died.
Sources at the State Specialist Hospital said that six bodies were brought to the hospital from the scene of the blast, adding that 15 injured people were under treatment.
PRNigeria, an agency that distributes press statements on behalf of Nigerian security and rescue agencies, said the incident occurred during the early Morning Subhi Prayer.
The agency said “the explosion was carried out by a suspected lone suicide bomber whose two accomplices escaped, when some vigilant members of the community accosted them on their suspicious movements”.
It quoted a senior health official as confirming that six bodies had been deposited in the mortuary, while about 17 other injured victims were being treated at the Specialist Hospital and the University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital.
No one has claimed responsibility but Ibrahim blamed terror group, Boko Haram, which has been trying to carve out an Islamic state in the North since 2009 for Friday’s attacks.
Scores were left dead barely nine hours later when an explosion rocked a newly built mosque in Yola.
“So far we have 27 dead and 96 injured,” NEMA’s co-ordinator in the Adamawa State capital, Sa’ad Bello, told AFP.
The explosion happened at about 2:00 pm (1300 GMT) at the Jambutu Juma’at mosque in the Jimeta area of the city, shortly after the imam had finished his inaugural sermon.
It was not immediately clear whether the Yola attack was also a suicide bombing or caused by an explosive device hidden in the building.
One volunteer at the Jambutu Juma’at mosque, who helped in the rescue effort but asked not to be identified, said: “This mosque was nearly built and this was the first prayers in it.
“While worshippers had risen for the prayers to start after the sermon by the imam, there was a huge blast in the premises,” he said.
“There was confusion and dozens of worshippers lay on the ground in blood.”
Another rescuer, who also requested anonymity, said: “The explosion happened in the midst of a large congregation of worshippers.”
NEMA’s Bello said the victims were taken to two hospitals in the city.
“At the (Adamawa) State Specialist Hospital we have 18 dead bodies and 50 injured. At the Federal Medical Centre, we have nine dead and 46 injured,” he said.
“Most of the injured are now in a stable condition and have been moved to the wards. Only a few remain in the emergency section.”
He added: “The injuries include fractures, burns and fissures (cuts).”
Hospital management said the victims are in dire need of blood transfusion.
“Several are now receiving treatments but many are in critical condition, we are appealing for blood donors.
“For now, I can’t say the exact casualty figures of dead, our concern is to save life, and doctors are working assiduously to treat those with critical condition,” said Adamu Dodo, the public relations officer of the Federal Medical Centre.