Thursday, 6 November 2014
Boko Haram Stole Truckloads Of Dynamite From Ashaka Cement Factory
Boko Haram fighters are set for more lethal attacks after carting away on Tuesday eight truck loads of dynamites from a cement factory near Gombe, the Gombe State capital.
The sect’s fighters also robbed a bank on Tuesday after attacking Nafada where they blew up a police station and the local secretariat of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Nafada is 150 kilometres from Gombe. Many people were killed by the attackers who rode into the town on more than 50 motorcycles.
Also shot dead was a cleric, Sheik Adamu Misira, whose home was invaded.
They invaded Ashaka Cement, a Lafarge-owned firm, set up in 1974, is the largest cement factory in Northern Nigeria, which has about 500 direct employees – some of them expatriates.
The gunmen stormed the site at about 3pm, according to a worker, Amadu Wunti, who said they looted high explosives and demanded to be taken to where expatriate managers stay.
Wunti identified the expatriates as French nationals but the Lafarge group said it did not comment on its foreign staff for security reasons.
At the time, the plant was mostly empty, with staff having run to safety when news spread that the gunmen were coming after the raid in Nafada, which left at least 10 dead, according to residents.
Abubakar Galda and Awwal Ibrahim said five soldiers were killed at a checkpoint and four worshippers were shot dead at a mosque with the town’s most senior cleric.
Wunti’s account was supported by several others, including another staff member, who said: “They [the militants] pulled out after the raid. They did not hurt or kidnap anyone.
“But they took eight company vehicles and lots of dynamite used in quarry work. The attackers, which included young women, broke into the store and loaded dynamite into the vehicles and drove off.”
Nafada is near the boundary with Yobe, a state under a state of emergency since May last year because of insurgency.
The violence would be consistent with Boko Haram’s recent pattern of striking south of their stronghold in the northeast, where it is attempting to carve out a hardline Islamic state.
The attack happened after a triple bombing at a bus station in Gombe city, last week, which killed no fewer than eight people and injured dozens of others.
Suspected militants on Sunday used dynamite to blast open a jail in Kogi State, where Boko Haram prisoners are believed to be held, allowing 132 to escape.
Boko Haram funds its operations in part through bank robberies and has previously stolen vehicles, including armoured personnel carriers, weapons and ammunition from the military.
Unlike previous attacks in recent months in the far northeast, the militants did not attempt to hold the town, leaving when they secured their loot.
French diplomats in Nigeria said none of its nationals was taken in the raid. The head of the Lafarge group, Bruno Lafont, said operations had not been affected.
“The factory was the target of intruders. There were no injuries. There was no damage in the factory,” he told reporters in Paris yesterday.
“This morning (Wednesday), the situation is still calm and everything is back to normal.”
Members of the #BringBackOurGirls advocacy accused the government of withholding facts about the dangers of the insurgents’ attack on the cement factory from Nigerians, knowing full well that the dynamites will be used by the insurgents to create more explosives.
#BBOG added that the insurgents who invaded the factory also made away with food stuff.
A member of the group, Dr Eman Shehu, said yesterday that at first, when people heard about the invasion of Ashaka, it was believed that the insurgents needed the airspace located there for their own benefit.
“When Boko Haram attacked the Ashaka Cement factory in Gombe, what the government and military failed to tell Nigerians is that Boko Haram carted away with dynamites and food stuff.
“This is really a dangerous situation because those dynamites can be used by the insurgents to create more explosives that will create more havoc.”
But the military said the insurgents had been repelled from the factory.
According to a highly-placed source, who spoke on the preliminary findings of the military, the insurgents were after explosives.
The source said: “From our preliminary investigation, the insurgents invaded the cement factory because of explosives. They needed more explosives for their operation. Perhaps for more dastardly attacks.
“But they did not succeed at all because they could not get the explosives. And troops were quickly mobilised to repel them.
“We have regained the control of the area. And security has been beefed up in all parts of Gombe State.”
Another military source added: “We are also reviewing security network for all the states in the Northeast because of the new pattern of attacks by the sect members.”
The Nation Newspaper