According to reports, armed persons attacked the train carrying hundreds of passengers.
The train, which left Abuja at about 6 p.m., was attacked between Katari and Rijana. Both towns are known as an axis of evil where terrorists and bandits notoriously operate.
Just on Friday night, invaded the perimeter fence area of the Kaduna International Airport killing an airport. The Armed Forces and the state government made frantic efforts on Monday to make small the attack, just a few hours before the train attack.
Road travel between Abuja and Kaduna has remained risky, but the can-do spirit of Nigerians, amid insecurity, keeps the road sector on, even if reduced.
Meanwhile, bandits invaded Hayin Kanwa village in Giwa council of Kaduna State, killing 15 people.
A resident of the community, Alhaji Mohammed Buwala, told journalists that the attack was carried out on Sunday night, adding that the dead were buried early yesterday.
He said, “Killings and kidnapping in Giwa are getting out of hand. People are being killed and kidnapped daily. The situation is terrible because 15 more people were killed at Hayin Kanwa just yesterday (Sunday) night by bandits.
“Since Thursday, these bandits have been attacking villages, killing people,” he said.
Police spokesman Muhammed Jalige did not pick calls to his phone to confirm the incident.
The military authorities yesterday cleared the air on the reported attack on the Kaduna International Airport by bandits, saying the incident happened about six kilometers away from the terminal.
The military said 12 of the bandits were killed in airstrike.
Yesterday afternoon, the state Commissioner for Internal Security and Home Affairs, Samuel Aruwan; Garrison Command 1 Division Nigerian Army, Brig-General Uriah Opuene and Air Force Base Commander, Air Commodore, Ademuyiwa Adedoyin led journalists to the attack scene.
Speaking at the scene, Brig-General Opuene said the international airport is protected, adding that bandits dare not attack it.
“As you can see, this place is about six kilometers away from the airport terminal. The bandits were only passing behind the airport perimeter fence when they saw the security man engaged by NAMA (Nigerian Airspace Management Agency) and fired at him. They just took advantage of that to pass a message that they have attacked the airport.
“There are several layers of security at the Airport, this is the first layer and even this first layer was not breached, because from the moment of hearing that shot, it took our men just about three minutes to get here from the next layer of security.
“On our arrival, the bandits were already running away, so we engaged them through the use of ground forces. Then we called for air strike and a helicopter was deployed and from the air report, about 12 of the bandits were killed.
“So, as you can see from the distance, the insinuation outside that the terrorists took over the airport is not correct. If the terrorists had entered, they would have met us there,” he said.
“Also speaking, NAF Base Commander, Air Commodore Adedoyin said security around the Airport general area has been beefed up since the security of the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA) was breached last year, adding that bandits dare not attack the Kaduna airport.
Aruwan said the state government was also engaging citizens in communities around the airport to scale up intelligence gathering, adding that there is no threat to the immediate vicinity of the airport.
Last Friday night, terrorists were said to have invaded Kaduna International Airport and killed a security guard attached to the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency, NAMA.
The terrorists also allegedly prevented a Lagos bound commercial aircraft from taking off.
A combined detachment of the military and other security agents were, however, deployed to the airport to confront the terrorists.
According to a source, “The terrorists were many, about 200.They later re grouped and attacked the airport again. As of 12.30 pm , we could still hear gunshots at the airport.”
However, Airport Manager, Mrs. Amina Ozi Salami, said no flight was stopped by the terrorists as two flights that departed the airport had long taken off before the terrorists started firing shots at the runway from the parameter fence.
“The terrorists have their route behind the parameter fence and were always passing there”, Salami said.
“One of the security guards who was at runway 05 was hit by bullet from the terrorists on the head and he died on the way to hospital.
“AZMAN had long taken off at the time the bandits started shooting. In fact AZMAN may have forgotten that they came to Kaduna.
“Unfortunately on their way to hospital, the guard died.
“Behind the parameter fence is their route, they are always passing through that place.I don’t know whether they wanted to come to the airport.
“Unfortunately they shot at the runway ,unfortunately their bullet hit the security guard on the head.But the two flights we had had taken off.
“There are military personnel in the airport and they gave it to the terrorists. They seized some of their motorcycles. The military succeeded in chasing them away”.
Managing Director of NAMA, Matthew Pwajok, said: “It’s true, bandits attacked our Navaids site which is a kilometer away from the runway, they killed the watchman while the technical staff ran back, we alerted the military and they responded swiftly, the situation is now under control by the military, the few flights were able to take off afterwards.”
The Kaduna State Government confirmed the Monday train attack but said it was successfully repelled.
One of the passengers aboard the train, Anas Iro-Danmusa, took to Facebook to solicit for prayers for those in the train.
He said the armed persons planted explosives on the rail which damaged the train’s engines.
“Please this is an emergency. We are inside train at the moment. Kidnappers planted explosives and the train engines have been ruined. We are helpless. Abuja to Kaduna train. Gunshots still being fired right around us. We are just under the seats praying to God while waiting for help. Since 8pm we have been here. Btw Katari to Rijana. I am a living witness,” he posted.
His first post was around 9:07 p.m
According to him, the bandits had surrounded the train and made efforts to enter the coaches but the doors were not opening.
“Please, spread the news. We need help. Gunshots,” he posted.
Over an hour after his first post, Mr Danmusa said soldiers had arrived and repelled the attack.
Also, one Adam Hayatu took to Twitter to, quoting a passenger onboard the train, announce that passengers had been saved by security agents.
“Alhamdulillahi! The military have secured the train. Thank you DSS, thank you Kaduna CP, Thank you Samuel Aruwan, thank you DMI and all the classified persons who answered our calls without hesitation and actually acted upon it. God bless Nigeria and everyone.”
Daily Nigerian reported that there were 970 passengers onboard the train.
“All the passengers are currently lying on the floor of the train. The bandits are shooting sporadically. We are in serious danger,” a passenger told Daily Nigerian.
The Kaduna police command spokesman, Mohammed Jalige, did not respond to calls and SMS sent to him on the attack.
This is not the first time bandits are attacking Abuja-Kaduna train. Last October, the bandits destroyed a portion of the rail track with explosives which disrupted the journey.
The managing director of the Nigerian Railway Corporation, Fidet Okhiria, confirmed that the explosives planted had damaged the track.
The Abuja-Kaduna train is very popular as it is considered safe compared to the road that has witnessed several attacks by armed persons.
The latest attack on the train may, however, cause many passengers to have a rethink.
Kaduna is one of the states most affected by banditry in North-west Nigeria with thousands of people killed or kidnapped in recent years.
The Kaduna government released the statement below confirming Monday’s attack. It said security operatives had secured the passengers.
Troops secure Abuja-Kaduna train trapped by terrorists
Security agencies have reported to the Kaduna State Government that the military has secured the Kaduna bound train from Abuja trapped by terrorists.
The Kaduna State Government received multiple reports of an attack on the Abuja-Kaduna train service at around Kateri-Rijana general areas.
Relevant action agencies were urgently contacted, and robust deployments of personnel were swiftly made to the area to secure the passengers on board.
Efforts are ongoing to convey the passengers from the location and others that sustained injuries have been rushed to hospitals for urgent medical attention.
The Government of Kaduna State will be liaising with the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) to ascertain the list from the passengers’ manifest for efficient tracking.
This is to acquire an accurate inventory of all passengers and their actual status.
Governor Nasir El-Rufa’i who has been in constant touch with the security forces, commended them for their prompt response, and thanked them for successfully securing the train and passengers on board.
Security forces continue to comb the general area in additional rescue efforts.
Emerging developments will be communicated to the public.
Commissioner, Ministry of Internal Security and Home Affairs, Kaduna State.
▪︎ Additional reports by Premium Times