Just in January, 40 explosions rocked the ancient city leaving over 120 people dead.
That fateful Monday, a Honda car, laden with Improvised Explosive Devices, IEDs, was spotted at a very busy junction in the city.
The area was along the ever busy and strategic Eastern bye-pass
The spot where the car was sighted is quite close to a military checkpoint – just a shouting distance. Now, whether the choice of that spot was with a view to hitting at the military men positioned at that spot may never be known.
But that was where the car was parked. Upon sighting the car and discovering its cargo of death, the area was immediately cordoned off by security men. Men of the Joint Task Force, JTF, immediately sent for the Police Bomb Disposal Unit to defuse the high caliber improvised explosives.
Sunday Vanguard gathered that the explosives had a timer attached to it.
In fact, information available to Sunday Vanguard suggests that the immediate need for cordoning off the area was just so that the flow of human traffic to the spot would be halted.
Although men of the bomb disposal unit turned down Sunday Vanguard’s request for an interview, it was discovered that the timer may have been attached to the explosive devices because of what an expert described as the need for precision and target bombing. In the event that the timer is linked to a cellular phone or a device that emits radiation, “those who parked the car there may not be too far from that spot. That way, the bomber (in this case since it is not a suicide mission) can determine at what point or the exact time when he wants the explosives to go off.
So, for the bomb squad, one of the very first equipment they use is the scanner
For this operation in Kano, detonating the bombs lasted for some 30minutes.
While the operation lasted, a military helicopter was seen hovering over the area.
Because of the twin factors of precision and target specificity on the part of the terrorists, the JTF, Sunday Vanguard was made to understand, continues to device more pro-active means of detecting IEDs before they are set off. It was one of such activities that led to the discovery of the Honda car in Kano last Monday.
All efforts to get the JTF and the disposal unit to respond to enquiries about details of its detonating engagement did not yield any response.
The reason is not far-fetched.
In mid-February, in the same Kaduna, an explosion went off at Ungwa Sarki Market, Kaduna North, around 11:30am. 10 munities later, another bang occurred some 500metres away, under a busy overhead pedestrian bridge instantly maiming to death a policeman. The first explosion took place opposite the Kaduna state Transport Authority (KSTA) motor park with various states’ transport services having loading units there.
File photo: Policemen from bomb disposal unit of Kano State Police Command packing defused home made bombs made from cans of soft drinks.
The second occurred at Sultan Bello Road, still within the Ungwa Sarki area, killing an anti-bomb squad police officer. The policeman, according to sources, was killed while using a bomb scanner to ascertain an object suspected to be a bomb allegedly dumped by terrorists at the Ungwan Sarki area, near the popular Sultan Bello Mosque – a grandiose, imposing structure revered by Kaduna Muslims as their Central Mosque.
The dangerous nature of IEDs makes the devices really very difficult to detonate compared to normal bombs.
For instance, whereas there are standard procedures meant to be followed in any attempt to detonate a bomb, IEDs are configured to suite the desired effect of the producer. An IED can sometimes be so easy to defuse or detonate but for those who have acquired geo-physical and chemical expertise in manufacturing IEDs, such contraptions put together by them may be very difficult to defuse, therefore, utmost caution is required.
More dangerous: Visualise a terrorist emptying the highly combustible and explosive contents of a rocket into small cans of soft drinks in tens or hundreds for the purpose of making an IED. The explosion such materials would set off would be near the same impact of the rocket itself when it hits its target. Which explains why the suicide vehicles are always mangled beyond recognition once the IEDs are set off.
Apart from Kano, Gombe State also had its fair share of recovered explosives.
Were it not for the tip-off that yielded positive results, Gombe, perhaps, would have recorded an orgy of unprecedented bomb attacks during the Easter celebrations last week. Over 60 explosives planted at different locations at the BCGA area of Gombe metropolis, waiting to be set off were discovered and detonated by the Anti-Bomb Squad of the Nigerian Police.
According to sources, the bombs were meant to explode Thursday morning which many feared would have disrupted the Easter celebration in the state.
Five persons suspected to be Boko Haram Islamic sect members were arrested by the State Security Service, SSS, over the intended attack.
The Gombe State Director the SSS, Mr. Bitrus Asha, who spoke to journalists at the scene of the incident in the outskirts of Gombe town where men of the Anti Bomb Squad of the Nigeria Police from Yola detonated the explosives, said the suspects were rounded up after a tip-off.
Collaboration comes in handy, very handy – and even across borders.
For instance, whereas it was the British intelligence operatives, with the active involvement of Home Secretary John Reid, at that time Britain’s top law-and-order official, who actually commenced investigations into the activities of some Arabs who were planning to use liquid bombs aboard flights into America, once their American counterparts were informed, it became a joint effort such that at both ends of the command, no stone was left unturned. This was in 2006.
Rashid Rauf, the mastermind, based in Pakistan was arrested on the prompting of the Americans. He was said to have escaped after a few months but has since been reportedly killed in a drone attack in the mountainous region of Pakistan.
In London, M15 operatives arrested the following in the liquid bomb plot which has prompted aviation authorities to ban any form of liquid on board a flight – Tanvir Hussain, 25; Umar Islam, 28; Arafat Waheed Khan, 25; Ahmed Abdullah Ali, 25; Ibrahim Savant, 25;Waheed Zaman, 22; Assad Sarwar, 26, and Adam Khatib, 19.
Their attempt to get liquid materials for IEDs aboard flights from Britain to the United States, led to the global banning of passengers bringing liquid materials on board flights.
What these people had done was to buy purified water in plastic bottles. They used syringes to extract the purified water content of the plastic bottles and in turn employed the use of syringes again to fill the same bottles with liquid chemicals that were meant to be smuggled aboard flights. Once the bottles are filled from the bottom, they are then sealed cleanly. Meanwhile, the tamper-proof corks remain intact Operatives of the M15 kept trailing them until this secret was discovered.
They rounded up all the suspects who are serving varying degrees of jail sentences in Britain.
The connection to the activities of Nigeria’s home-grown terrorists is that those cans of soft drinks packed with different types of chemicals may look simply harmless. But assembled with different chemicals for the production of IEDs instantly turn them into very dangerous cans of death. The business of detecting and detonating IEDs remains a very dangerous one.
(article by Jide Ajani)