Aisha Bindawa took a bullet shell with her as a memento of the horrendous attack. It was the worst day of her life. But she was a survivor. Strange, but that blood-stained bullet casing was her trophy for emerging from that nightmarish experience with her life intact. Ms Bindawa was a passenger in the ill-fated Kaduna-bound train that was attacked by armed men, called bandits by the Nigerian media, on Monday evening. The gunmen are primarily kidnap-for-ransom outlaws. They had discharged explosives on the track of the train, forcing it to stop before relentlessly firing upon its passengers. The ordeal lasted for almost two hours before soldiers and police personnel who engaged the assailants in a gunfight rescued Ms Bindawa and other passengers. “It was terrible,” she said during a telephone interview with PREMIUM TIMES. “I had seen nothing close to what I saw that night and I pray it should be the last time I’ll ever witness such a thing.” Others were not as lucky as Ms Bindawa. The government said eight people died during the attack while the bandits abducted many others. Aisha Bindawa holding a bullet shell Ms Bindawa told PREMIUM TIMES that for the first time in her life, she sat close to a corpse. She thought she was going to die. “There was a man sitting beside me. When that man was shot, I felt life leaving my body. I look at him and felt my soul fleeing too,” she said. The train left the Idu station in Abuja, the country’s capital, around 6:28 p.m. As it is wont to do, they stopped at the Kubwa Station, just outside Abuja, where more passengers joined the approximately 2 hours 30 minutes ride to Kaduna. But just over an hour into the journey, hell was let loose. The loud sound of explosives jolted passengers. Seconds later, they heard a more ominous sound — the clapping of automatic rifles- as bullets started raining on the train, like a hailstorm from hell. Real-life action movie Ibrahim Wakkala, a former deputy governor of Zamfara State, was also a passenger on the train. He described what happened on the night as being like a scene from a movie. In a recorded voice message sent to this newspaper, Mr Wakkala, who sustained a bullet wound in his leg, said the bandits specifically targeted the business coach of the train. He said they used explosives to gain access to the coach. “They took away many people in the last coach while some of them (bandits) were still shooting the other coaches. I can confirm that several people were taken and many killed,” he said. Ibrahim Wakkala (former deputy governor Zamfara) Traumatised Though it was not the first time Shuaibu Alhasan, a Katsina-born civil servant, would come in close contact with a dead person, all his previous experiences did not prepare him for what he saw on the train on Monday. He said the experience has left him traumatised. “All the passengers sitting on my sides were killed. We were just lucky because no matter how you tried to evade such gunfire, it’s only God that can save you,” he said. He said bullets were flying from all angles. A lady who had given him a bottle of water about 10 minutes earlier was the first casualty in his coach. The bullet hit her on her forehead, and then the light on the train went off. While Anas Danmusa is yet to come to terms with what happened on the night, “everything happened like in a dream,” he said. Only that it was a nightmare that dragged on for almost two hours. The blood, the sound of the gunshot and the realisation that he could be next made it even more horrendous. Describing the assailants as teenagers, he said it was a well-coordinated attack. Even as some bandits entered the train, others standing out continued shooting relentlessly, but bullets did not hit any of the bandits who entered the train, he wrote on his Facebook page. Mr Danmusa said the bandits came with four Hiace buses and three space wagons and they made sure they filled the vehicles with abductees before they fled. “While the soldiers were evacuating us, one passenger who was kidnapped but escaped while they were taking into the buses told me that those abducted were over fifty because he said the vehicles were all filled,” he said.
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