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Six Almajiri children and a scrap metal dealer die in improvised explosive device blast

30 January 2024
Reading time: 3 minutes

Gubio resident tells how a child mistakenly picked up an undetonated IED which exploded when a dealer was sorting through the boy’s bag of scrap metal

Six Tsangaya pupils – known as Almajiri – and a scrap metal dealer have been killed in an improvised explosive device (IED) blast in the Gubio Local Government Area of Borno State.

The explosion occurred on Saturday, January 27.

The Almajiri children were collecting metal items to sell to the scrap dealer. One of them picked up an undetonated a dump site which exploded when the dealer was sorting through the items.

Alhaji Modu Gubio, a resident of Gubio town, the headquarters of the local government area, told RNI that he heard a loud explosion at about 2pm on Saturday.

“Before the explosion, I saw a group of Almajiri children collecting scrap metal at a dump site. It’s common practice. Poor people and Almajiri children often collect items to sell to one of the scrap metal dealers in the town.

“This time, without realising it, one of the children picked up the undetonated IED. When the children had finished scavenging, they went to the scrap dealer’s yard, formed a queue and waited in turn to sell their scrap metal.

“The child handed his collection to the dealer who was sorting through the items when the IED exploded. The child, the dealer and five Almajiri children in the queue behind him were killed instantly in the blast.”

Modu said this was not the first explosion of its kind that had killed innocent children.

“People in Gubio are wary of collecting scrap metal because there have been a quite a few people – adults and children – who have died after mistakenly picking up IEDs that later exploded.

Bashir Umar, also a resident of Gubio town, said: “Six children were killed in the blast. We saw the remains of the body of one of the deceased which were scattered on the street.”

In July last year, Babagana Umara Zulum, the governor of Borno State banned the collection of scrap metal in Maiduguri, the state’s capital, because of the frequent explosions of IEDs.

He said it was an unsafe practice and that many people – scrap dealers and collectors, as well as patrons and traders at local markets – had been killed when the IEDs detonated.

The ban was also imposed to stop people vandalising and stealing metal items from government facilities in abandoned communities.



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