Two professors – Jerome Ayodele and Andrew Leo Ogbonyomi – and 13 other Christian worshippers were killed in coordinated attacks at the Bayero University, Kano on Sunday. Also killed in the attacks was a senior non-accademic staff, Mr. Sylvester Adah.
The attacks took place at the Indoor Sports Hall, where the Catholic faithful in the university had their Sunday mass, and an open air theatre where Protestants worshipped.
Our correspondent reports that other worshippers sustained various degrees of injuries. The incident came three days after members of the Islamic sect, Boko Haram, had bombed media houses in Abuja and Kaduna State.
Although no group had claimed responsibility for Sunday’s attacks as at press time, there were concerns that they could be the handiwork of the fundamentalist Islamic sect, Boko Haram.
Also on Sunday, Rev. Albert Naga of Church of Christ In Nigeria, LCC SIMARI, and three church elders were shot dead in Maiduguri, Borno State by gunmen suspected to be Boko Haram members. The Reverend and the elders were leaving the church after the communion service when they were killed.
The spokesman of BUK, Mustapaha Zaradeen, when contacted, said it was difficult to get the actual casualty figure of students. But he confirmed the death of seven persons, including students and worshippers from outside the university.
Zaradeen, however, said that the attacks were carried out at about 8.30 am by gunmen numbering about 15, who stormed the worship places on motorbikes from over four locations within the campus.
Going by the manner of the attacks, witnesses claimed the bandits might have laid siege to the area before the arrival of worshipers for the Sunday service because shootings began barely 10 minutes after the mass began.
Many of the victims were taken to the Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital Emergency ward for treatment.
One of the victims is a 400-level accounting student of BUK, Faith Onche. She was shot in the arm. Onche said they had assembled for the service at the open air theatre at about 8.30am. She said that minutes after the service began, gun shots were heard few metres away from the arena.
She said, “Initially, it was mistaken by some of us for a burst tyre. Until it became sporadic, it dawned on us that it was a gun attack and at that point, there was stampede as everyone scampered to safety.”
Onche said she was on a business visit to the campus but decided to worship at the worship centre.
She was emphatic that the worship centres were not bombed, insisting that she saw the gunmen who opened fire on the worshipers.
Sources at the university corroborated her story, adding that the only time explosions were heard was when the attackers were leaving the campus after the operation.
“They (gunmen) pursued them (worshippers), shooting them with guns. They also attacked another service at the sporting complex,” the witness told AFP.
A witness said there was pandemonium and that he saw two men shooting indiscriminately.
A history lecturer at the university, Mohammed Suleiman, said security guards had to run for dear lives when the violence broke out.
“For over 30 minutes, a series of bomb explosions and gun shots took over the old campus, around the academic blocks,” he told Reuters.
Although officials confirmed seven deaths after the attacks, they claimed that up to 20 people could have been killed as bodies were lying around and were being taken to hospitals.
“I counted at least 15 dead bodies. I think they were being taken to the Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital,” another witness told Reuters.
Some eyewitnesses said they saw fresh bloodstains at the scenes of the incident. Vehicles and motorbikes were abandoned by panic-stricken worshippers.
The Joint Task Force officials who cordoned off the scenes immediately they arrive with Armoured Personnel Carriers, intercepted a Mercedes V boot, suspected to have been primed with explosive devices in the area.
Kano State police spokesman, Ibrahim Idris, said by the time police arrived, the attackers had “disappeared into the neighbourhood,” adding that a manhunt was under way.
Reacting to the incident, Kano State Governor Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, who cut short an official trip to Abuja to visit the scenes of the incident, described the attacks as unfortunate and sad.
Kwankwaso commiserated with the university authorities and its community and lamented that “such a painful thing” had happened at a time peace was gradually returning to the state capital .
He assured that the state and Federal governments would continue to work hard to ensure that peace prevailed among residents of the state.
The governor noted that the state government had an arrangement with public and private hospitals to treat victims of such incident.
The Deputy Vice- Chancellor (Academic), Prof. Yahuza Bello, conducted the governor round the scenes of the incident.
Kano state has been one of the worst hit by Boko Haram. The sect’s deadliest attack yet took place in Kano in January. More than 180 people were killed in the attack.
Source: Talk of naija