Seven killed, others abducted in Nigeria train attack

By: AFP
Published: 11:09 PM, 29 Mar, 2022
Seven killed, others abducted in Nigeria train attack
Caption: Seven killed, others abducted in Nigeria train attack.
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At least seven people were killed and others kidnapped during an attack on a major Nigerian railway after gunmen detonated a bomb on the track and opened fire on a halted train, hospital sources and authorities said on Tuesday.

The Monday night attack on a train linking the capital Abuja with the northwest city of Kaduna was another escalation in the violence in the region by heavily armed criminal gangs known locally as bandits.

Nigeria's armed forces are battling a jihadist insurgency in the northeast, but bandit attacks and mass kidnappings are an increasing challenge in parts of the northwest and centre of Africa's most populous country.

President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday condemned the "grave" attack and called for security forces to increase surveillance on the Abuja-Kaduna line and another linking Nigeria's commercial capital Lagos with the southwestern city of Ibadan.

Around 970 passengers were onboard the Kaduna train when gunmen blew up the tracks and started shooting into the coaches late on Monday before the army arrived to repel them, a security source said.

"Passengers who sustained injuries, and the fatalities, have been moved to hospitals," Kaduna State security commissioner Samuel Aruwan said in a statement, without giving further details.

Two medical sources at Kaduna's 44 Army Reference Hospital said seven bodies of those killed in the attack had been recovered along with 22 more wounded people.

A train security guard also told AFP that seven people had been killed, including two cleaners on the train.

Kaduna State Governor Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai visited some of the wounded at the hospital where he also referenced casualties, according to statement that gave no death toll.

Heinous acts

Stranded and fleeing passengers were evacuated by the armed forces but Aruwan said search and rescue operations were continuing for those still missing.

"The President charged the law enforcement chiefs to bring back all passengers kidnapped and ensure that each of the callous terrorists are hunted down and made to face justice for their heinous acts," the presidency said in a statement.

The Nigerian Railway Corporation said services on the Abuja-Kaduna route had been "temporarily suspended".

Two days earlier, gunmen killed a perimeter security guard in an attack at Kaduna airport before armed forces intervened.

Gunmen also attacked the same railway line with explosives in October.

Bandit gangs in the northwest and central Nigerian states have long terrorised communities, conducting mass kidnappings for ransom, raiding villages and stealing cattle.

But their violence has intensified. Gunmen often arrive in their scores by motorbike, sometimes striking several villages, killing and abducting residents.

Gunmen have also targeted highways for kidnappings between the capital and cities such as Kaduna and the northwestern commercial hub Kano.

Nigeria's military has been carrying out operations and air strikes to clear bandits out of their camps hidden in forests that straddle several states in the northwest. But the violence has continued.

Security forces are also battling Nigeria's 12-year jihadist insurgency in the northeast that has killed 40,000 people and displaced more than two million more.

AFP

Agence France-Presse is an international news agency.