Suspected members of the Islamist militant sect, Boko Haram, on Wednesday detonated another bomb at the EMAB Plaza, one of the busiest shopping complexes, in Abuja.
The explosion is the third in the Federal Capital Territory in the last two months. On April 14, 2014, a bomb blast at Nyanya, Abuja, killed 71 people and injured 124.
Another blast in Nyanya , a satellite settlement near Abuja, on May 1, 2014, killed 19 people and injured 60.
The Wednesday bomb went off around 4.10pm in front of the mall adjacent to a very busy mosque where many Muslims had gone to observe the Asri (4pm prayer).
Although eyewitnesses put the casualty figure at 30, the Force Public Relations Officer, Frank Mbah, told journalists at the scene that 21 people died and 17 were injured.
Mba’s figures were however contradicted by the Federal Capital Territory Minister, Bala Mohammed, who said that 12 people were killed while 35 were injured.
Mba had also said that the explosion destroyed 17 vehicles outside and within the complex.
The Managing Editor, Northern Operations of the New Telegraph, Suleiman Bisalla, is one of the dead victims.
Eight others believed to be drivers were burnt in their vehicles.
Mbah said, “We just want to confirm the fact that there was a blast at the Emab Plaza, Wuse , Abuja, this afternoon. As soon as the incident occurred, security agents moved into the scene, we cordoned it off and initiated actions targeted at saving lives.
“The casualty figure for now is 21 dead, 17 injured and 17 vehicles burnt. If there are any changes later on we will inform you.
“It is also heart-warming to note that an arrest has been made and security agencies would follow up on that arrest .
“The building is still an active crime scene and it has been cordoned off. Investigation has commenced.
“The police bomb disposal squad working in conjunction with other security agencies has already commenced investigation.
“We have equally taken measures to secure the critical infrastructure and all the goods here, and we are assuring the traders and members of the public that we will put adequate security in place to ensure that there is no pilfering.
“We will intensify surveillance and monitoring of plazas, shopping malls and all the open markets. We had previously commenced this action, and we are not doing that because this explosion has taken place today.
“We have already begun to fortify all the soft targets within the FCT, and we will continue to do everything humanly possible to secure all our businesses and facilities within the FCT.’’
An eyewitness, who had blood stain on his blue shirt, told one of our correspondents that the intensity of the blast was such that many of those killed had their bodies completely dismembered.
Our correspondents also saw some body parts opposite the plaza , including the private parts of a man whose body was among those moved to the mortuary.
The Coordinator, National Information Centre, Mr Mike Omeri, said on Wednesday that soldiers killed one of the suspected bombers and arrested another.
Omeri told newsmen in Abuja that the attackers came on a power bike and planted an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) by the entrance of the shopping mall.
He also confirmed the death of 21 persons and 17 others injured in the blast which also damaged several vehicles.
It was gathered that the suspects, who attempted to flee the scene of the incident, were shot and arrested by personnel of the Guards Brigade on patrol duty in the area.
One of them later died from wounds sustained from gunshots while a bag containing IEDs was also recovered from the suspects.
Some of the victims were reportedly receiving treatment at the National Hospital, Wuse General Hospital and Maitama General Hospital, where movement had been restricted.
FCT Minister Bala Mohammed gave an assurance during a visit to the Maitama hospital that the Federal Government would foot the medical bills of the victims.
Mohammed advised residents to be very vigilant at all times and report suspicious movements to security agencies for prompt action to check such attacks.