Nigeria’s Secret Service, the State Security Service, SSS, has shed more light on the bombings Thursday of the Abuja and Kaduna Bureaus of ThisDay newspapers and the Kaduna offices of The Sun and The Moments newspapers, in the first such strikes on the country’s media, killing at least eight people, and leaving at least 19 people wounded.
The homicide bomb attack at the Abuja bureau of ThisDay, a top Nigerian newspaper and an attempted car bombing at another of its offices killed eight people Thursday. A second attack hit the northern city of Kaduna, and later in the day, a third, smaller bombing also occurred in the same city, leaving three people wounded.
In a statement, Marily Ogar, Deputy Director Information, SSS, the Agency confirmed that the attacks were carried out by suicide bombers. The agency also said three lives, including that of the Abuja suicide bomber were lost to the attacks while five others were injured.
Two others were killed in Kaduna by the suicide bomber who threw the bomb at them. The bomber was arrested and is now in police custody.
Ogar statement reads: “On 26th April, 2012, about 1100 hours, a dark green coloured Isuzu Jeep wired with bombs, forced its way into the premises of Thisday Newspaper, at Jabi, Abuja and it detonated killing the suicide bomber.
“Meanwhile, two (2) persons and the suicide bomber are confirmed dead while five (5) persons were injured and are currently receiving treatment.
“Also, at 1100 hours, two (2) persons in a cream colored Honda Accord (Academy) car with registration number AL 306 MKA, drive into SOJ Global Communications and Investment Limited Plaza which houses correspondents of The Sun, Thisday and Moments Newspapers, located at R9, Kontagora road, Ahmadu Bello Way, Kaduna.
“One of the assailants, Umaru Umaru MUSTAPHA, an indigene of Maiduguri, Borno State, alighted the car with a container of Improvised Explosive Device (IED).
“He was immediately challenged by two (2) gallant Nigerians following which he threw the bomb at them and it denoted killing them instantly.
“Subsequently, MUSTAPHA pulled out a pistol and fired several shots in the air in an attempt to escape.
“He was however caught and subdued by brave members of the public who refused to be intimidated and handed him over to security forces.
“Nine (9) persons were injured and are receiving treatment.
“The Service wishes to state that the new affront on the media should not deter patriotic reportage of issues that affect our collective interest as Nigerians.
“While the Service sympathies with families of victims and the deceased, we wish to applaud the rare gallantry and patriotism exhibited by well meaning members of the public who risked their lives to save others.
“ We therefore call on all good citizens to rise up to the challenge of bringing an end to the menace of terrorism in our dear country.
Olusegun Adeniyi, ThisDay’s editorial board chairman told journalists that the bombing attacks in the capital Abuja, was carried out through suicide attack when a suicide bomber drove into the back of the building belonging to ThisDay, one of the country’s most prominent and influential papers, after security guards allowed him into the gate.
The loud blast in Abuja shook the area, sending smoke billowing into the air and causing panic, with memories of a suicide bombing of UN headquarters in the Nigerian capital in August still fresh. Four people were killed, including the bomber, while seven were wounded at the privately-owned paper, officials said.
“The suicide bomber came in a jeep,” Olusegun Adeniyi told reporters at the scene. “(Security guards) opened the gate for them … The guy drove in through the gate and rammed into the building and exploded.” The two guards were killed in the blast along with the bomber, he said. Five support staff were wounded.
“Fortunately the newsroom is a bit far from the back of the building,” said Adeniyi. “So all the people in the newsroom … are all safe,” he added.
Adeniyi said both security guards were killed, but the rescue official said one was killed, while two other people outside the premises and the bomber also died.
Damage could be seen to the printing press and other areas, while dozens of security and rescue workers were at the scene, as well as firefighters. The newspaper is based in the economic capital Lagos, but has a major operation in the capital Abuja.
In Kaduna, witnesses reported a chaotic scene where an attacker threw a bomb outside a complex housing newspaper offices, while his car was driven onto the premises.
The bomb outside the premises exploded, while the car later detonated.
The secret service statement, which provided slightly different details than witnesses at the scene, said one of the suspects — Mustapha — exited the car with a bomb, which he threw at two people. The blast killed them, it said.
It spoke of two suspects but did not say what happened to the second suspect mentioned in the statement.
One report stated that police fired shots at the car after it had been left and it exploded twice. Authorities were later said to have discovered three gas cylinders and other explosive devices inside the car.
The explosion that went off later in the day in Kaduna saw a suspected Boko Haram member plant a bomb on a road which wounded three people, an emergency official said.
Boko Haram’s insurgency, mainly in northern Nigeria, has killed more than 1,000 people since mid-2009. It claimed responsibility for an August suicide bombing of UN headquarters in Abuja that killed at least 25 people.
The group’s deadliest attack yet occurred on January 20 in the northern city of Kano, the country’s second-largest, when coordinated bombings and shootings killed at least 185 people.
Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation and largest oil producer, is roughly divided between a mainly Muslim north and predominately Christian south.
A purported spokesman for the Islamist group had recently made threats against news media outlets, saying they were being used by authorities to publish stories against Boko Haram.
President Goodluck Jonathan, currently attending a regional summit in Ivory Coast, condemned the attacks.