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Bomb blast a bit close

Less than a fortnight after Kent Hodge was caught in a roadside militia ambush in Nigeria, the Deniliquin missionary narrowly avoided a deadly terrorist attack.

ZOE MCMAUGH May 23, 2014 3:55am

Deniliquin missionary Kent Hodge was just 15km from two terrorist bomb attacks which killed 118 people in the town of Jos in Nigeria on Wednesday.

Mr Hodge is in the terror-stricken African nation leading the Christian Faith Ministries.

He was sitting in his office when he heard and felt two massive explosions.

The bombings arrived less than a fortnight after Mr Hodge, Deniliquin doctor Sydney Paul and two other Nigerian men were caught in a roadside militia ambush on May 11.

The car they were travelling in was sprayed with machine gun fire, killing the driver, Emmanuel Razack.

Mr Hodge’s wife Ruth, at home in Deniliquin this week, said she spoke to her husband Wednesday night after learning about the car bomb attacks earlier that day.

‘‘He is safe but the attacks have hit home for the (Christian Faith Ministries) staff.

‘‘The wife of one of our staff members has a shop there (near the blast), and she had just left. One of the cars was parked right outside her shop. If she had been there she would be dead.

‘‘One of the pastors from Jos lost his daughter in the attack.’’

An initial car bomb detonation was followed up by secondary bombs, believed to have been designed to hit rescuers and medical personnel.

The attacks are being blamed on Islamic militant group Boko Haram, the same group to admit it kidnapped more than 300 girls from a Christian school in Chibok, Nigeria.

Mrs Hodge said while the attack was carried out by an Islamic group, she believes religion is not the reason behind it.

‘‘It’s just terrorism, plain and simple,’’ she said.

‘‘I woke up at midnight and checked my emails and Facebook when I saw news about the attack.

‘‘I rang Kent and was able to speak to him. He is helping look after people. There are still a lot of people who need help, so he can’t just leave.

‘‘Our friend Emmanuel will be buried this Saturday. He led the Christian Faith Ministries with Kent so there’s still a lot of work to be done.

‘‘Kent’s also still waiting for his passport to be replaced.’’

Mr Hodge’s passport was stolen in the May 11 ambush, when a Nigerian militant group opened fire on their car. Theirs was not the only car involved as the gunmen blocked a road.

Mr Hodge reported to his wife the militants were Fulani, saying they spoke in Fulbe language used only by Fulani people.

People were forced out of the cars, including Dr Paul, Mr Hodge and their friend Pastor Josie, and all items of value were stolen before they were forced to walk into the surrounding bushland.

Dr Paul’s passport was hidden in a bumbag, and he was able to flee Nigeria. He has been in India staying with his in-laws ever since and is expected back in Deniliquin today.

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