But for the extra vigilance of a cameraman and police officer at the scene of a suicide attack that killed eight persons at the outskirts of Damaturu, the Yobe State capital, yesterday, more lives would have been wasted if one of the injured suicide bombers had succeeded in igniting a handbag filled with more bombs.
A group of suspected Boko Haram suicide bombers yesterday came in a convoy of two vehicles, a Toyota Highlander with a Bauchi State number plate -and a Ford Galaxy mini bus marked 2B 2108 and approached from Maiduguri towards Damaturu.
But police officers at the checkpoint stopped the two vehicle, as they curiously noticed the car leading the convoy with a strange tourists number plate. Upon interrogation, the visibly dishevelled
looking passengers claimed to be foreign diplomats travelling from Maiduguri to Damaturu.
Dissatisfied with their conduct, the police officers insisted on taking them to the station for proper interrogation.
But within seconds, the Toyota Highlander went off in massive explosion and flung most of the passengers out of the jeep in their dismembered form. Only the female passenger survived the explosion with an injury on her waist.
Four of the passengers inside the jeep were killed instantly alongside the three police officers who were closed to the jeep.
As more security operatives, aid workers and journalists arrived at the scene, the injured woman was seen on ground lying almost lifeless, as she intermittently called for help in Hausa language.
A camera man who was filming the injured woman that was moving suddenly sighted her trying to drag a reg handbag in front of her. But the cameraman quickly alerted a nearby police officer over the bid of the woman to hide the handbag under the veils she was wearing .
“As we sensed she was up to something sinister by trying to conceal the handbag under her veil, we immediately sensed she was trying to detonate bombs hidden inside the handbag”, said a police officer who sought anonymity.
“All threats to make her hand over the handbag proved abortive. So one of our men had to fire a shot at her from a distance in order to disarm her.
“And to our dismay, when the bomb experts from the Explosives Ordnance Department came and carefully opened the bag, we found five unit of live mortar explosives inside the handbag. It took extra care to defuse the explosives, because it is capable of causing massive destruction”.