By Jacob Kubeka –
Gunmen attacked a passenger train in northwest Nigeria Monday night, opening fire after detonating explosives on the track, but were repelled by troops without causing casualties, a security source and friends of passengers told AFP.
The train was hit at about 9:00 pm on the line between the capital Abuja and the major northwest city of Kaduna, where heavily armed gunmen had attacked the airport on Saturday.
It was the latest violence attributed to armed criminal gangs, known locally as bandits, who are blamed for rising violence and mass kidnappings in northwest Nigeria.
“Terrorists have attacked an Abuja-bound train this evening with 970 passengers on board,” a senior security source told AFP.
“The terrorists bombed the tracks with explosives between the towns of Katari and Rijana, which are notorious kidnapping spots. This forced the train to stop while the terrorists besieged it and (started) shooting into the coaches,” the source said.
“The attack has been repelled by the troops who deployed in time. The terrorists fled when the soldiers arrived. The train is bulletproof, this saved the passengers who lay still on the floor.”
According to the source, there were no casualties and the train was headed back to Abuja, as the track to Kaduna was damaged.
Two friends of passengers, who had been in contact with them by telephone, confirmed the attack and rescue by the army.
“I spoke with my friend’s wife and she said they had been rescued by soldiers. No one was hurt. They are going back to Abuja,” Muhammad Musa told AFP.
“My friend is on the train. He confirmed to me they are now safe. The military came to their rescue from the bandits,” Abdullahi Mustapha also told AFP by telephone.
“They are going back to Abuja. They can’t come to Kaduna. The rail has been vandalised by the explosion,” he said.
The incident comes two days after heavily armed men attacked Kaduna airport on Saturday, killing a security guard and temporarily disrupting flights before being repelled by troops.