The Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) has suspended train services between Abuja and Kaduna until further notice following the attack by bandits on a train Monday night.
This is as some family members of passengers aboard the train said they were yet to know the fate of their relatives.
PREMIUM TIMES reported how bandits planted explosives on the train track and demobilised it around Kateri and Rijana around 8 p.m. Monday.
NRC’s Managing Director, Fidet Okhiria, also confirmed the attack but said details were still sketchy.
“We have confirmed the attack, but we cannot give you much information right now.
“From the reports we have gotten, most of the passengers have gone into hiding and the officials on board are yet to give us a report of the situation.”
The Kaduna State government has confirmed the attack and evacuation of passengers.
“Evacuation of passengers on the trapped Kaduna-bound train from Abuja has been concluded this morning by security forces, officials of Kaduna State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) and Nigerian Red Cross.
“Passengers who sustained injuries, and other fatalities, have been moved to hospitals.
“The passengers were evacuated from different hard-to-reach areas in forests and rocky locations in Audujongom, off the Kaduna-Abuja Road.”
In a tweet Tuesday morning, the corporation said the suspension of the train was due to unforeseen circumstances.
“Dear passengers, due to unforeseen circumstances, Train operations along the Abuja-Kaduna route have been temporarily suspended. Further Communication would be given in due course,” the tweet reads.
Passengers’ families apprehensive
Speaking to a News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) at the Rigasa Railway station in Kaduna on Tuesday, some family members said they were yet to establish contact, 14 hours after the tragic incident.
They, therefore, appealed to the state government to come to their aid to relieve them of the apprehension they were passing through.
Mohammed Barau, a resident of the Ungwan Rimi area of Kaduna, said he was at the train station to have an update regarding the incident, adding that his younger brother was in the train attacked.
“We called his line several times without response, until later his friend seated with him on the train picked and told us that my brother left his phone on the seat and that he did not know his whereabouts.
“When we later tried to call again, the phone was switched off, and when we called the friend, he was not picking up,” Mr Barau said.
He then urged the government to come up with a comprehensive list that would give the public a sense of relief.
“By now, the government should have released a comprehensive list of people killed, those injured, as well as the number of people evacuated.
“At least, when this is done, it would give us some peace of mind, but we have not heard anything yet,” he complained.
Also, Lami Gombo, a resident of Kudenden, in Kaduna, said she was yet to hear from her brother, who was on board the train.
“His telephone lines are switched off; we have been to the Nigerian Army Reference Hospital, but did not see him there.
“The development is worrisome; the entire family is confused as to whether our brother is still alive, dead, or had been kidnapped,” she said.
A staff of the NRC, who was also on the ill-fated train, told NAN that some of the passengers had fled into the bush for safety when the incident occurred.
“Nobody can ascertain whether passengers were kidnapped or not, but the pandemonium must have caused a lot of people to run into the bush to safeguard their lives,” said the staff, who did not want his name mentioned.
NAN reports that the Kaduna-bound train, which left Abuja at 6 p.m. on Monday, was attacked by suspected terrorists around 7.45 p.m., with just 15 minutes drive left for it to arrive in Kaduna.
Kaduna State Commissioner for Home Affairs and Internal Security, Samuel Aruwan, on Tuesday, said the train had been secured by military personnel, and that government had evacuated passengers on board the train.
He said the staff of Kaduna State Emergency Management Agency (KADSEMA) and Nigeria Red Cross, Kaduna chapter, conducted the evacuation.
When contacted by NAN for details of the casualty figure, an official of KADSEMA who did not want his name mentioned, said they were still working on the details.
Meanwhile, train service including other business activities at the Rigasa Railway station, Kaduna, had been grounded as a result of the incident. (NAN)
An anonymous passenger told BBC Hausa as monitored by PREMIUM TIMES Tuesday morning that the train was attacked a few minutes after 8 p.m.
“We were on our journey around Rijana when we suddenly heard a loud sound that made the train to suddenly stop. The bandits then started shooting sporadically while the policemen escorting the train responded back,” he said.
The passenger said he saw four bodies of the passengers who were mostly women.
“Anyone who told you that nobody was killed is lying. I saw three to four dead bodies mostly women. And many passengers that were in the last coach were taken away before the security agents arrived to chase the bandits. But wallahi, some passengers were abducted,” he said.
A former senator representing Kaduna Central, Shehu Sani, also took to his Twitter handle to lament the attack.
“They killed some, they injured some & they kidnapped some. The Train attack was preventable. Lessons weren’t learned from the last tragedy. The trains weren’t equipped with sensors to detect explosives & the promise of the use of helicopters to protect the trains was abandoned,” Mr Sani Tweeted.
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