A suicide bomber on Sunday found his way into the City of David Parish of the Redeemed Christian Church of God in Potiskum, Yobe State, and detonated an explosive device which led to the death of five worshippers and the bomber.
One other person also sustained injuries.
A source said the dead bomber, suspected to be a member of the terrorist Islamic sect, Boko Haram, entered the church auditorium during Sunday service with the Improvised Explosive Device strapped to his body.
The source said the bomber headed for the altar as soon as he entered the church.
“Before he (the suicide bomber) could be stopped, he has detonated the bomb strapped to him, which led to the death of six people; the suicide bomber, the pastor of the church, Dotun Okerinola; and four others,” the source told one of our correspondents on the phone.
The Police Public Relations Officer, Toyin Gbadegesin, an assistant superintendent of police, who confirmed the incident to one of our correspondents, said “A male suicide bomber at about 10 o’clock this morning detonated a bomb at Redeemed Church, in the Jigawa area of Potiskum, killing five persons including the suicide bomber.
He also said another female worshipper in the church sustained serious injuries in the attack and that the victim was being attended to at the Potiskum General Hospital.
A source in the hospital, who pleaded anonymity, said five bodies were brought there from the scene of the attack and that “one woman who sustained serious injuries at the scene is receiving treatment.”
Reuters quoted a Red Cross official as saying that the casualties would have been higher if not that worshippers were just trooping into the church when the bomb went off.
“People were just going to the church when the bomber entered, otherwise the casualty figure would have been higher,” said Red Cross official, Hassan Alhaji Muhammad, who reportedly visited the scene of the explosion on the outskirts of Potiskum.
In Jos, twin bomb blasts occurred late on Sunday with many deaths recorded.
As of the time of this report, the actual casualty figure could not be ascertained but an eyewitness said he counted no fewer than 15 bodies at the scene of the first explosion at a restaurant opposite the Bauchi Road campus of the University of Jos.
The explosion went off at about 9.15 pm.
The second explosion was also said to have occurred about 15 minutes later at a mosque near Yan Tyre (tyre market) area of Dilimi junction, along same Bauchi Road.
The leader of the Izalla sect, Sheikh Yahaya Jingir, normally performs the Tafsir (breaking of fast) at the mosque hence it always attract large number of Muslims.
“We have counted 15 bodies that died instantly from the first blast; we are now moving to the scene of the second one at the mosque. But the soldiers are asking us to go back because the casualty figure is high,” an eyewitness told one of our correspondents in Jos Sunday night.
The Police Public Relations Officer in Plateau State, Emmanuel Abuh, who confirmed the twin blasts, said that men of the anti-bomb squad had been dispatched to the area. He said that the exact casualty figure and the extent of damage could not be ascertained until the men are able to clear the area.
“It is too early to give any figure. We have dispatched our men there and we are expecting feedback from them,” he told The PUNCH.
Also in Zamfara State, gunmen reportedly killed at least 30 people in the Birnin-Magaji Local Government Area, the News Agency of Nigeria reports.
Chairman of the council, Muhammad Gusami, said on Sunday that the attacks took place in Kokeya and Chigama villages in the area.
Gusami said the gunmen invaded Kokeya village with motorcycles and killed two persons, set some houses ablaze and carted away animals mostly cows.
“The gunmen killed more than 30 persons whose bodies were still being recovered from the bush,’’ he said.
Ibrahim Sani, a witness, said that the gunmen who invaded Kokeya came while the villagers were closing from their prayers.
“The attackers shot sporadically in the air which prompted the people of Chigama to intervene.
“That may have provoked the gunmen to come back so as to punish Chigama people for trying to prevent the attack the previous day.
“While three persons were killed from Kokeya and Chigama on the first day in Kokeya, more than 50 were killed on the second day in Chigama while several houses were burnt,” Sani said.
The Police Public Relations Officer, Sanusi Amiru, who confirmed the attack, said that the police and army had moved to the area and normalcy had been restored.
President Muhammadu Buhari on Sunday said members had declared war on all that Nigerians value.
He spoke in reaction to the attack on the RCCG church and his reaction was contained in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina.
The President said he received the news of the latest attack with sadness.
The statement read in part, “The President wholly condemns the resumption of attacks by terrorists on places of worship, which are highly revered places of prayer and communion with God for most Nigerians.
“Nigerians are a very religious people and President Buhari believes that the terrorists who wantonly attack our places of worship have wilfully declared war on all that we value, and must therefore be confronted with all our might and collective resolve.
“The President reaffirms his administration’s total commitment to doing everything possible to eradicate Boko Haram, terrorism and mindless extremism from Nigeria in the shortest possible time.
“President Buhari assures all Nigerians that terrorism will ultimately be defeated and full security restored to all parts of the country for people to safely practise their respective faiths with liberty wherever they may reside in the nation.
“The Constitution gives all Nigerians that right and the present administration will deploy all required force and resources to protect citizens’ right to freedom of worship.”