Explosion rocks Suleja church, injures five
AN early morning explosion on Sunday went off near the Christ Embassy Church at Suleja, Niger State, injuring five persons. One of the injured is a baby.
Five vehicles parked in the vicinity were also destroyed by the explosion.
The device, said to have been planted inside a bag near the church located at 22 Morocco Road, exploded at about 10am as the church was about commencing its Sunday service.
A similar explosion at the St. Theresa’s Catholic Church in the nearby village of Madalla barely two months ago, killed 44 worshippers.
Four churches are located within the vicinity.
Our correspondent who visited the scene shortly after the explosion reported that the explosion created panic in the neighbourhood but that soldiers quickly cordoned off the area and prevented vehicles from plying the road.
Members working in the security department of one of the churches were said to have sighted the bag containing the explosive planted near one of the cars parked close to the church and raised the alarm. But the explosive went off before it could be detonated.
The police said five suspects had been arrested in connection with the blast believed to have been targeted at the four churches.
The Niger State Police Public Relations Officer, Richard Oguiche, confirmed the arrest, saying investigations had commenced.
The victims of the incident, eye witnesses’ account said, were immediately rushed to the Suleja General Hospital for treatment.
Our correspondent however learnt that two of the injured victims, whose names were given as Chike Emefo and Maureen Kenneth, had been transferred to Gwagwalada Specialist Hospital for special attention.
Emefor reportedly had cuts in his stomach, right leg, lap and his wrist. He was given blood transfusion before he was taken away to the specialist hospital.
Kenneth lives in a house opposite the scene of the explosion and she was said to have had shrapnel embedded in her neck. Her brother, Mr. Leo Kenneth, said the lady was hit while standing in the passage of their house.
He said that residents were debating the veracity of the claim that the sack contained a bomb when it went off.
“When we heard that the sack contained a bomb, some of us stood a little distance from the object debating whether it contained a bomb or not. We were still arguing about it when there was a loud explosion, with a lot of sand and darkness,” he said.
The third victim, Nasiru Yusuf, suffered injuries to his calf and was seen being attended to at the hospital.
The fourth victim, whose name could not be immediately ascertained, was seen sleeping in his hospital bed and taking a drip when our correspondent visited.
The injured baby could not be located and checks revealed that she was not brought to the hospital with the other victims.
The pastor in charge of the Christ Embassy Church, Pastor Uyi Idubayi, said that the bomb was targeted at his car.
He said that three strange men that planted the explosive were sighted by the security team of the church who called his attention to the suspicious sack that was left behind by the men.
He said, “Because of what is happening in the country, we created a security team. We were having the (Sunday) service when the head of the security team informed me that he saw three strange men near my car.
“On getting there, we saw a sack containing something like a cylinder; so we knew that it was a bomb.
“We quickly placed a call to security agents who advised us to evacuate the church and the surrounding area.”
“But before the securitymen got here, the bomb went off, but no one died; only four or five people sustained minor injuries.
“Jesus Christ is alive; I think their plan was to detonate the bomb when worshippers would be coming out of the church so they can record maximum casualties, but God helped us and we discovered the bomb before it could be detonated.”