A school, mosque and several houses were destroyed by a dynamite explosion in Azare town in Katagum area of Bauchi State on Sunday, January 15, 2023.
The blast, which occurred near the town’s Police Township, also affected a proposed Police Jumuat Mosque.
A resident of the town, Haruna Bello, told PREMIUM TIMES on the phone that the dynamite went off a few minutes after 11:00 a.m. while some local government officials were clearing the area.
“When the explosion happened, it took time to regain composure. You know, we also had an incidence of Boko Haram attacks some years ago, so when the blast happened, people started running for safety thinking it was a Boko Haram attack,” Bello said.
He said the explosion occurred in a building owned by the local government.
Addressing journalists on the scene, the Bauchi State Commissioner of Police, Aminu Alhassan, confirmed the explosion but said no lives were lost.
He said the explosion was caused by dynamite while some people were cleaning the grass nearby.
“The issue is an incident where some dynamite used for road construction was found in an abandoned shop at a quarry site owned by a road construction company. They left the place now more than 30 years ago.
“There was a problem with some people burning brush nearby and the heat caused a dynamite to explode. They were not meant for Boko Haram. The company’s dynamite was abandoned for blasting rocks,” he said.
Mr. Alhassan said the command sent an Anti-Bomb Squad to the area for proper assessment.
He added that the police found more dynamite left behind and ordered the place to be sealed off.
“We immediately sent an EOD and they went there and found out that there were dynamite. They also cleared the area and that night they set off two more dynamite. They expanded the search and found three more dynamite. I have also ordered the entire area to be sealed so that it is not accessible to the public until the area is properly cleaned.
“There was a new mosque there, there was also a private school that was affected and some family houses. We want to assure the people that it was not an attack by Boko Haram or terrorists, but an explosion of dynamite”, he added.
PREMIUM TIMES gathered that the state governor, Bala Mohammed, accompanied by heads of security agencies in the state, visited the town on Monday afternoon.
Azare, the seat of Katagum Local Government, suffered a deadly Boko Haram attack when the insurgents attacked the town, killing three residents in 2011.
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