Two female suicide bombers detonated Improvised Explosive Devices at the Molai-Umarrari Mosque, Ummarari, on the outskirts of Maiduguri, on Wednesday, killing no fewer than 22 worshippers.
One of the 18 injured worshippers, who had gathered in the mosque for the early morning prayer, died at the State Specialist Hospital, Maiduguri, where the injured persons were rushed to after the attacks.
It was learnt that the Imam of the mosque was one of the injured as he was said to be outside the mosque when the bombers struck.
Also, the Nigerian Army confirmed the death of 22 persons in the bomb attacks on Ummarari.
The Director of Army Public Relations, Col. Sani Usman, in a statement in Abuja on Wednesday, confirmed that the attacks were carried out by two female suicide bombers.
According to Usman, the first attack targeted a mosque, while the second blast occurred about 50 metres away, a few minutes later.
Usman said troops, other security agents and caregivers had been mobilised to the scene, while the wounded had been evacuated to Molai General Hospital for treatment.
Ummarari is located at about 10 kilometres along the Maiduguri-Damboa-Biu road.
A top military source and an officer of the National Emergency Management Agency, who both spoke on condition of anonymity, said 22 corpses were evacuated from the blast scene and deposited in the mortuary.
At the State Specialist Hospital, Maiduguri, a medical doctor, who did not want his name mentioned, said 12 injured persons were rushed to the hospital, adding that one of them died while eight others were in critical conditions.
The Borno State Governor, Alhaji Kashim Shettima, who later visited the village to condole with the victims of the attacks, stated that the villagers had exhibited gallantry by not fleeing their community because of the bombings.
He assured them that the mosque would be secured, by building a perimeter fence with a locking system to prevent any future attacks.
He directed the Commissioner of Water Resources, Dr. Zainab Gimba, to commence the drilling of a borehole in the village to address the scarcity of potable water.
He announced a donation of N500,000 cash to the affected villagers.
The village head, Modu Ba Mallum, attributed the attack to the replacement of military commander last week and the non-availability of patrol vehicles to the 70 vigilance group members assigned to patrol the village.
Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday said the terror attacks on Ummarari had again exposed members of the Boko Haram sect as mere criminals, who had no place among civilised people.
He promised that those who perpetrate, finance, organise and sponsor terrorism in Nigeria would not escape punishment.
Buhari’s reaction was contained in a statement made available to journalists by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina.
The President assured all stakeholders that with the current renewed determination of the Nigerian security agencies, coupled with the regional and international attention constantly now focused on the eradication of terrorism, the final end of Boko Haram was in sight.
He, however, urged all Nigerians to be vigilant against what he described as the antics of the sect.
The statement read in part, “The President said the condemnable and reprehensible attack on a place of worship by perpetrators who pretended to be worshippers, has once again exposed them as mere criminals who have no place among civilised people.
“President Buhari expressed his deepest sympathy and condolence to the families of the victims and to the government and people of Borno State over the incident.
“The President, who wished speedy recovery to those injured, also commended the security agencies and care givers for their prompt deployment in the area and reaffirmed that those who perpetrate, finance, organise and sponsor these reprehensible acts of terrorism will not escape punishment.”
In his own reaction, the Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai, described Wednesday’s bomb attack as an act of desperation by the Boko Haram sect to remain relevant.
Buratai said this on Wednesday during his maiden visit to the 4 Brigade Command in Benin, Edo State.
The Army chief explained that although it was unfortunate that young and innocent girls were being used by the terrorists to perpetrate their crime, the attack was “not unexpected”.
He argued that the insurgents were “struggling to survive” with their dwindling membership.
Buratai, who also dismissed reports that he claimed that insurgency had come to an end, stated, “First of all, that report talking about the end of insurgency was not properly reported. I did mention that insurgency is a very difficult situation. It is a global phenomenon and we will continue to struggle to ensure that it comes to an end very soon. This does not mean that insurgency will just die down.
“So, what happened today is not unexpected because these people are struggling to survive and these are the last remnants of the Boko Haram terrorists.
“As you know very well, they are sending innocent young girls to go and kill themselves; it is unfortunate. Their (Boko Haram) end is near definitely.”
On the role of the Army in Saturday’s state and National Assembly rerun in Rivers State, Burutai said, “That question should go to the police. But for us, we are working to ensure we maintain security right now and up to the end of the election.”
He expressed satisfaction with the operations of the brigade command and its collaboration with other sister agencies in the state, urging the military officers to continue to do their best to protect the integrity of the country.