On 7 February, suicide bombers targeted two military bases as another bomb detonated at a busy overpass near a motor park in Kaduna, capital of Kaduna State.
According to a statement by the spokesman of the 1 Mechanised Division headquarters, Lt. Col. Abubakar Edun, two attackers driving bomb-laden cars (a Sienna Toyota space bus and a Honda Accord) struck at the headquarters of the 1 Mechanised Division of the Nigerian Army at about noon.
Refusing to stop, they overran the security post and the lawn leading to the headquarters complex. A soldier opened fire on the Toyota car, causing the car to swerve and explode at a car park. But the Honda car did not explode.
Edun said: “The Honda Accord which did not explode was loaded with ten numbers of 20 litres of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), four numbers of 30litres loaded with IEDs and two numbers of large peak milk containers also loaded with IEDs”. He said the bomber in the Toyota Sienna died in the attack and that the Army recorded no casualty.
In his own account of the incident, the Nigerian Army Headquarters spokesman Maj-Gen Raphael Isa told newsmen in Abuja that a suicide bomber dressed in a military uniform attempted to drive a car bomb into the 1 Mechanized Division headquarters. Soldiers guarding the gate opened fire on the man, who died from gunshot wounds.
“The soldiers repelled the attack and were able to stop what will have been a suicide bombing. However, after firing (at) the suicide bomber who tried to force his way, the bomb exploded and shattered the glasses that adorn the frontage of the headquarters. The suicide bomber was the only casualty,” Isa, who is the director of Army public relations, said.
Soon after the attack at the 1 Division headquarters, two other blasts went off near the Air Force base and at the Kawo flyover.
On the incident at the Air Force base, Air Force spokesman Air Commodore Yusuf Anas said some attackers tried but failed to get through the gate. They then threw an explosive about 500 meters from the outer fence of the base.
Anas said: “They used all these locally made bombs. They used fertilizer and some things to generate some serious detonation”.
At the Kawo flyover, the explosion occurred directly opposite the Kawo Motor park, which is the largest in the city. The popular Kawo weekly market which holds only on Tuesdays was in its peak trading hours, bustling with traders and buyers at the time the bomb exploded. Sources said many people were injured while running for their dear lives.
Later in the day, the militant Islamist group, widely known as Boko Haram, claimed responsibility for the attacks. A man claiming to be the sect’s spokesman, reportedly told journalists by telephone in Maiduguri that: “Government and security agencies have turned against us and betrayed the truce we offered. That is why we attacked Kaduna. And henceforth, we will always attack any town or city where our members are exposed or arrested”.
On 30 December, three explosions were reported in Maiduguri, capital of Borno State, but military authorities said no one was killed.
Initial reports had said that one of the explosions occurred near a mosque after the Friday afternoon prayers and set off a massive stampede, and that about four people may have been killed.
BBC had quoted the Director of Army Public Relations, Maj Gen Raphael Isa, as confirming there had been a “major incident” which had caused casualties.
However, the spokesman of the military Joint Task Force in the state, Lt Col Hassan Mohammed, while confirming the blasts to newsmen, said none of them occurred near a mosque. He said the explosions occurred near market areas in different parts of the city but that no one was killed.
The explosions occurred only five days after the Christmas Day bomb attacks on churches in Madalla, a town in Niger State close to the federal capital, Abuja, and also in Jos, capital of Plateau State. Those attacks killed at least 42 people, mostly Christian worshippers at the St Theresa’s Catholic church in Madalla. The government blamed the attacks on the militant Islamist group, Boko Haram; a spokesman for the group also reportedly claimed responsibility.
About 24 hours before the latest blast, the group had emailed a statement to some media houses saying: “If God is willing, we will carry out further attacks”.