Nigeria: Attack on Abuja-Kaduna railway line shows growing security problems

By 'Tofe Ayeni
Posted on Tuesday, 29 March 2022 18:34

Police officers are seen conducting checks on vehicles at the Federal High court in Abuja, Nigeria 21 October 2021. REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde

On Monday 28 March, unidentified men attacked a train heading from Abuja to Kaduna between Katari and Rijana, leaving an unconfirmed number of casualties.

The train, with more than 1,000 passengers aboard, left the Federal Capital Territory around 6pm.

Bandits exploded an improvised explosive device under the tracks and derailed the train, one of the passengers told Channels Television.

The attack comes a week after the house of representatives urged the federal government to increase security along the Abuja-Kaduna railway.

With multiple attacks and kidnapping on the roads, many people had opted for the train route. Two days earlier, gunmen attacked the Kaduna airport, killing a security guard before soldiers intervened. As a result, many who would usually fly chose the railway.

The train attack

Passengers took to Facebook and Twitter to report the attacks, some complaining at the length of time it took the army to arrive on the scene. Others spoke of an initial detachment of soldiers being wiped out by the attackers. Chief of army staff Lieutenant General Faruk Yahaya reportedly visited the scene later.

Kaduna Central senator Shehu Sani said: “Police officers confirmed that three train cleaners were killed. My friend’s wife, who was on the train, also said many people in her carriage were killed and injured, and many kidnapped and taken away into the bush.”

A statement signed by the Kaduna State commissioner for internal security and home affairs, Samuel Aruwan, said: “Efforts are ongoing … [those] 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.”

Details are still sketchy about the attack on the Abuja-Kaduna rail line, and most information has come from citizens via social media.

The BBC has reported seven deaths so far, citing hospital sources, with 22 injured. More information about the attack and the government’s planned response to the insecurity is due to come out in the next few days.

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