Suicide attack, more blasts rock Kaduna

2012-02-07 19:07

Kaduna - Explosions rocked an army barracks, a bridge and an air base in the northern Nigerian city of Kaduna on Tuesday amid a wave of attacks blamed on Islamist group Boko Haram, officials said.

The military said the attack on the barracks was carried out by a suicide bomber wearing an army uniform. Troops opened fire on him before he was able to reach the compound's buildings.

According to the military, the blast went off after soldiers opened fire on the car as the bomber sought to force his way onto the grounds at the barracks in Kaduna, a major city in Nigeria's mainly Muslim north.

"There was a suicide bombing attempt by someone dressed in military uniform, driving in a private car," army spokesperson Raphael Isa told journalists.

"The soldiers... repelled the attack and were able to stop what would have been a suicide bombing at the front of the headquarters" of the 1st Mechanised Division, the spokesperson said.

"However after firing on the suicide bomber who tried to force his way, the bomb exploded and shattered the glass of the front of the headquarters. The suicide bomber was the only casualty..."

A military source said the bomber was killed.

A rescue official and residents said a second explosion occurred near a bridge in Kaduna, while residents reported a third at an air force base near the army barracks.

Rescue workers refused access

According to residents, the blast near the bridge damaged four commuter buses and wounded passengers, but details of the explosion at the air force base were unclear. One resident said it appeared a bomb had been planted there.

Musa Ilallah, an official with the National Emergency Management Agency in Kaduna who confirmed the explosion near the bridge, said rescue workers had been deployed to affected areas but were being refused access by soldiers.

"From all indications, they gate-crashed into the military barracks," said Ilallah.

One resident said he saw soldiers being taken out of the barracks with cuts thought to be from the shattered glass.

"Virtually all the glass has been shattered," the resident said. "I saw soldiers with glass cuts on their bodies being taken out, but it's difficult to say if there were any (more serious) casualties."

Boko Haram has been blamed for scores of bomb attacks in northern Nigeria, including some in Kaduna.

It claimed responsibility for January 20 co-ordinated bombings and shootings in Nigeria's second-largest city of Kano that left at least 185 people dead - Boko Haram's deadliest attack yet.

The August suicide bombing of UN headquarters in the capital Abuja which killed at least 25 people was also attributed to the group.

800 dead

In December, a powerful explosion rocked Kaduna, killing at least eight people, wounding many others and destroying a number of houses and shops, but the cause has never been clarified.

Police initially said the December explosion appeared accidental, but speculation over whether it was caused by a bomb intensified due to the blast's strength and rumours spread through the city over who may have been the target.

Kaduna has been on edge since being hit by some of the worst rioting following April elections won by President Goodluck Jonathan, a Christian from the south.

Three days of deadly rioting across the north killed some 800 people.

Nigeria, Africa's most populous nation and largest oil producer, is roughly divided between a mainly Muslim north and predominantly Christian south.

Boko Haram has claimed to be fighting for an Islamic state in Nigeria's north, but its demands have varied.