Eight people were yesterday confirmed killed in Monday’s attack on a Kaduna-bound train by terrorists.
The number of missing persons is still unknown, but the Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Lucky Irabor, said 29 persons were injured.
Minister of Transport, Rotimi Amaechi, said 41 persons were receiving treatment.
He said there were 398 passengers on board the train, but the Kaduna State Government said 362 were validated as having boarded through the recognised turnstile based on the manifest.
Survivours told The Nation that the gunmen detonated a bomb on the railtrack and opened fire on the halted train.
President Muhammadu Buhari condemned the attack, ordering Service Chiefs to ensure the quick rescue of those abducted and to also apprehend the perpetrators.
Amaechi, who inspected the scene of the attack, said the incident would have been averted if his ministry had gotten approval for the procurement of integrated security surveillance and monitoring solution.
The minister was accompanied by the Minister of Police Affairs; Mohammed Dingyadi, the Minister of State for Transportation Gbemisola Saraki, Managing Director of Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) Fidet Okhiria and others.
Speaking after inspecting the site, Amaechi said: “We don’t have all the figures of missing persons, kidnapped and those injured at the moment but the numbers we have is that there are eight casualties.
“There are 41 persons in the hospital and the total number of passengers on board is 398.”
The impact of the explosive, which appeared to have been planted on the track by the left rail towards Dutse station from Rijana, affected the first coach.
One of our correspondents observed that the train was riddled with bullet holes, with windows were shattered. The floors and walls of the coaches were blood-stained.
Clothes, handbags, footwear, snacks, travel bags, praying mat, ATM cards, identity cards, photographs, rosaries, water bottles and other items were scattered on the floors.
Amaechi said the digital system, which costs about N3 billion, would have helped detect human activities around the rail track.
The minister also said the damage done to the rail facility could cost over N3billion to fix, but he did not explain how he arrived at the figure.
Amaechi said: “We have lost locomotives, we have lost tracks, some have been kidnapped, we have lost human beings and to fix all those things will cost more than N3billion.”
On what was delaying the installation of the digital security system, Amaechi said: “We have not been able to install the security sensors because the procurement process is a bit difficult. It is typical of Nigerians.
“To shorten the process and save lives like this, we have to do the needful but the process is tedious, the approval is also tedious, we have not been able to get that approval that will lead to purchase of those items.
“If those items were here, drones alone will tell you that there are people around the rail tracks because there are drones, there are equipment that pick sensors if you touch the track but unfortunately the process has not been able to get us that approval for us to import those items.
“So for me, I am devastated and I honestly don’t know what to tell Nigerians anymore… The ministry of transport has finished everything, the other agencies are not under me.”
The Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) has suspended service along the Abuja-Kaduna route.
The Kaduna State Government said all trapped passengers in the train have been evacuated.
Commissioner of Internal Security and Home Affairs, Samuel Aruwan, said in a statement that the government was footing the medical bills of the injured passengers.
He said search-and-rescue operations were still ongoing in the general area.
The commissioner said the 362 on the manifest did not include staff members of the NRC.
Aruwan said: “The Kaduna State Government has received from the NRC, the detailed passenger manifest for the Abuja-Kaduna train service AK9, which was attacked by terrorists on Monday.
“According to the documents received, 398 passengers bought tickets for the trip, but 362 were validated as having boarded the train through the recognised turnstile.
“The passenger manifest does not include NRC staff and security officials who were on board.
“Furthermore, security agencies have reported that eight bodies were recovered and 26 persons were injured during the attack.
“Investigations are still ongoing to ascertain the status of the passengers who were onboard the train and remain unaccounted for at the time of this update. Search operations are also being sustained.
“Citizens are requested to contact the Kaduna State Emergency Management Agency on the phone line 09088923398, to make enquiries or provide information regarding passengers who were on board the Abuja-Kaduna train AK9.”
Buhari orders rescue of abductees
President Buhari told the military chiefs that no one or group should be “allowed to hold the country to ransom.”
The President spoke after receiving briefings from Gen. Irabor and Service Chiefs on the incident in Abuja yesterday.
President Buhari ordered that all the processes for the implementation of the integrated security surveillance and monitoring of the Abuja- Kaduna and Lagos-Ibadan rail lines were completed in earnest.
He also directed the NRC to repair the bombed section of the rail track and resume operations along the corridor as quickly as possible.
The President’s directives were contained in a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu.
Buhari, according to the statement by Garba, reiterated his earlier directive that the military should deal ruthlessly with terrorists.
He said: “Like most Nigerians, I am deeply pained by its occurrence, the second of its type, which has resulted in the death of a yet-to-be-determined number of passengers and others who suffered injuries.
“The attack on the train, a safe means of transport to many, is callous; and our thoughts are with the families of the deceased and prayers for the injured.”
The President commended the security agencies for their prompt response and the emergency personnel who evacuated and treated those with minor injuries.
Chief of Army Staff, Lt-Gen. Faruk Yahaya; Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Isiaka Amao; Chief of Defence Intelligence Maj.-Gen. Samuel Adebayo; Inspector-General of Police, Usman Baba, and the Director-General of the Department of State Services (DSS), Yusuf Magaji Bichi attended the meeting.
CDS Irabor told reporters after the briefing that the attackers used Improvised Explosive Devices(IEDs) to blow up the rail. He put the number of those injured at 29.
He said: “We have come to brief the President regarding the unfortunate incident, where some criminals, bandits had gone to lay IEDs on the rail tracks and a passenger train was demobilised.
“Seven Nigerians were killed and 29 others wounded. Some were kidnapped and we are yet to establish the exact number.”
He assured Nigerians that the military and other security agencies will not rest on their oars until everywhere is secured.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo said the attack reinforced the need to provide security and surveillance along the country’s rail tracks
He spoke when he visited victims of the attack at St. Gerald Catholic Hospital and 44 Nigerian Army Reference Hospital, Kaduna.
Osinbajo was accompanied by Kaduna State Governor Nasir El-Rufai and other officials.
The Vice President condemned the attack and extended his condolence to the families of passengers that lost their lives.
Lt.-Gen. Yahaya said troops were on the hunt for the terrorists.
He said no effort will be spared in tracking and rescuing all the victims.
The Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Usman Baba, said security agencies would adopt a new strategy to tackle criminals.
“The issue of the train is an isolated one and we will see how we can come up with a strategy to ensure that Nigerians who value travelling by train do not get discouraged by what happened,” he said.
The Trade Union Congress (TUC) Secretary-General, Comrade Musa Ozigi-Lawal, was killed in the attack.
A former TUC president, Peter Esele confirmed Ozigi-Lawal’s death.
The TUC also mourned its Kwara State chapter Chairman, Mr Akin Akinsola, who also died in the attack.
TUC President, Mr Quadri Olaleye, said Musa-Lawal and Akinsola were on their way to Kaduna for an official assignment.
“Comrade Ozigi served in the capacity of General Secretary, Construction and Civil Engineering Senior Staff Association (CCESSA), an affiliate of TUC for almost two decades before he joined the Congress in 2012.
“Comrade Akinsola was an employee of the Dangote Flour Mill under OLAM; they were both seasoned trade unionists,” he said.
A Director at the National Board of Technical Education (NBTE) Kaduna Head office, Abdul Isa Kofar-Mata and a young female dentist, Dr. Chinelo Nwando, were among those killed.
Kofar-Mata died at the Kaduna health facility from the gunshot injury he sustained in the attack.
A family source said his remains have been moved to Kano for burial according to Islamic rites.
The Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Kaduna State Branch, confirmed Dr Nwando’s death.
“She worked at St Gerard’s Hospital Kakuri and was a dedicated staff. May her soul rest peacefully and may her entire family be comforted,” NMA Kaduna Secretary Aisha Mustapha said in a statement.
The NMA expressed deep sadness over the death of Dr Nwando.
Its National Publicity Secretary, Dr Aniekeme Uwah, said in a statement: “The untimely death of the young, promising Dr Chinelo who served at the Kaduna State Dental Centre and worked with St Gerrard’s Hospital, Kakuri, while striving to earn an honest living is one other death too many.
“The association notes that needless bloodletting and senseless loss of lives is fast becoming a recurrent decimal in our country, thus worsening the alarming effects of brain drain, which in many instances have been attributable to the worsening security situation in the country.
“The association hereby calls on the security agencies to urgently reorganise the security architecture in the country with a focus on intelligence gathering in order to avoid these carnages across the country.”
The Managing Director of the Bank of the Agriculture (BoA), Alwan Ali Hassan, was said to be among the missing persons.
A source in BoA said Hassan’s phone had been switched off following his boarding of the evening train to Kaduna with one of his nieces.
The source said: “We can not tell if he has been kidnapped or not, but we are worried because no one has heard from him since yesterday (Monday).
“His phone lines have been switched off and no one has contacted the bank or any of his family members.”
A former Deputy Governor of Zamfara State, Ibrahim Wakkala, sustained gunshot wounds in the attack.
The spokesperson of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Zamfara State, Yusuf Idris, also confirmed the incident.
“He is very okay now, he is receiving treatment at the hospital in Kaduna state,” Idris added
How we were attacked, by survivors
Some survivors at the St Gerald Catholic Hospital in Kaduna said the attackers were young men between 18 and 22.
One of the survivors, Maimuna Ibrahim, said: “A bullet pierced through my leg but it didn’t touch my bone. The terrorists entered the train but they didn’t reach my side.
“They asked us to lie down. The police on the train also told us to lie down so that bullets would not hit us.
“They are young guys, small boys, they should be between 18 and 20. They did not look like Nigerians.
“Some of them had turbans on their heads and they were chanting Allahu Akbar. We saw them abducting some people. They brought them out of the train and went away with them.
“I didn’t see if they were put on the bikes. The only thing I saw was they were beating them. They were shooting at the train.”
Another survivor, Muhammadu Ishaq, said the policemen attached to the rain engaged the terrorists in a shootout.
He said: “We heard a loud bang, then the train started shaking and suddenly stopped. Then we started hearing gunshots from every angle.
“The police ran out and started firing back. They told us to all lie down on the train. The police went through the front, but the terrorists came through the back – Coach 17.
“They broke the door, gained access and said everyone should come out. We started running from coaches 17 to 16, 15 and so on. As I was running for my life, I noticed I was shot in my hand.
“I didn’t even know it was a gunshot, but I knew something hit me and then I held the place. It was when I was soaked in blood I knew it was a gunshot injury.
“I lay down praying but was still hearing gunshots for about one and half hours,” he said.
Another survivor, Fatima Shuaibu, a student, said he sat close to the window when the attack occurred.
“I was inside the VIP coach. They were targeting the VIP coach. They were young men of 18 to 20 years and did not look like Nigerians, but more like Chadians or people from the Niger Republic. They did not speak pure Fulfulde.”
A Kaduna-bound train was derailed after the rail track was blacked last October.
Attacks on travellers along the Abuja-Kaduna road have become frequent.
Only last Friday, gunmen invaded the Kaduna International Airport, killing an airport worker before they were repelled.
On Monday, the military said troops killed 12 of the airport attackers.