Terrorists yesterday bombed and successfully immobilised the over 1,100-capacity train on the Abuja-Kaduna rail line. The train was said to be carrying about 970 passengers at the time of the attack.
Sources told LEADERSHIP last night that the terrorists planted explosives on the rail tracks and bombed the train just before Rijana, a community along the rail line in Kaduna notorious for kidnapping and other security breaches.
A source said the train, which left Abuja at about 6:10pm, was intercepted before Rijana, and that after the bomb was detonated, about 50 terrorists came out from the surrounding bushes and surrounded the train.
Our source also confirmed that the train almost somersaulted after the attack but came to a halt before the terrorists came out from the bush and started shoot sporadically, trying to gain entrance.
The source also said the train was about 16 coaches, with seven regular coaches carrying about 88 passengers on each coach, eight VIP coaches carrying about 56 passengers each and one executive (VVIP) coach.
One of the passengers who confirmed the incident in a telephone call said the attackers had surrounded the train and were shooting sporadically. “All the passengers are currently lying on the floor of the train. The bandits are shooting sporadically. We are in serious danger,” said one of the panic-stricken passengers.
Confirming the incident, the managing director of Nigerian Railways Corporation (NRC) Fidet Okhiria, said, “We cannot give you much information now. Most of the passengers have gone into hiding and they cannot be giving information, but there are reports of gunshots, continuous gunfire as the train stopped.”
Meanwhile, a swift intervention by officials of the Department of State Services (DSS), the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) and the Nigerian Military last night saved the lives of the passengers. A passenger, Zainab Musa, said via telephone that the attack was a rude shock to them. “Currently, we are all lying down flat and security forces have started converging to drive the terrorists away, ” she said, adding that none of the passengers was harmed.
Also, one Anas Iron Danmusa, a passenger, said the explosives planted by the terrorists ruined the engine of their train. “As of 8pm, we were just lying on the seats of the train praying. The gunmen were shooting sporadically around the Katari -Rijana train route,” Danmusa said. “All the passengers are currently lying on the floor of the train. The terrorists are shooting sporadically. We are in serious danger,” another passenger said.
Meanwhile, agitated family members and friends of passengers stormed the Rigasa train station over the fate of their loved ones affected by the terrorist attack but the situation was brought under control. LEADERSHIP reports that this is not the first time bandits have targeted the Abuja-Kaduna rail route.
The Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) had on November 21, 2021, cancelled its service on the rail line after an attack on the train. The train was reportedly attacked with explosives by gunmen at two different occasions.
Following yesterday’s incident, the NRC posted a message on its booking website yesterday, saying it was suspending the service for the safety of travelers. The corporation said it was working to restore the service, and would inform the public when the train starts running again.