Passengers Risk Following Abuja-Kaduna Highway After Train Attack, Suspension Of Services

Following an attack on a train and the explosion of a rail track by suspected terrorists, passengers who returned to Kubwa train station in Abuja, Nigeria's capital, have resorted to following the dangerous Abuja-Kaduna highway.

Nigerians who were on board a Kaduna-Abuja train were forced to return to the Abuja station in Kubwa area of the nation’s capital Thursday afternoon, Oct. 21, following a security breach on one of the trains on Wednesday night, Oct. 20,  by suspected terrorists.

Many passengers who arrived at the Kubwa station at around noon were heading for Kaduna when the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) turned back their train after it announced suspension of train services following the terrorist attack on its train and its rail track. 

Suspected terrorists fired bullets at the driver side of the Abuja-Kaduna train on Wednesday night. They also returned on Thursday October 21 and demolished the rail line using explosives suspected to be dynamite. 

“The bandits first attacked the last Abuja-Kaduna train bearing number AK9 between Rijana and Dutse. The train came under heavy gunfire, but it struggled to stutter for about 7km and stopped as the gunshots damaged the fuel tank,” a staff of Nigerian Railway Corporation said.

“At the point of the attack, the train was unable to make contact with Abuja. Hours later, contact was made and a relief locomotive arrived past midnight.”

“And then the morning train from Kaduna to Abuja, bearing number KA2, also ran over fractured rail tracks, but successfully completed the journey. Suspected explosive devices were planted on the track, but God in his infinite mercy saved the travellers and train.”

Photo: the attacked train

Shehu Sani, a former Nigerian legislator who was in the Thursday train, posted footage of the attacked train after it was returned to the Kubwa train station. 

Other pictures and videos circulating on social media show the damaged rail track. 

However, Fidet Okhira, the Managing Director of the NRC said they couldn’t confirm that the rail track was attacked despite the circulating videos. 

Taking the dangerous route 

Rahma Abdulmajid, one of the passengers that were returned to Abuja Thursday afternoon said she planned to attend a conference in Kaduna but was forced to return due to the incident.

She told HumAngle that people were risking their lives by taking the Abuja-Kaduna road to attend to their necessary functions. 

The Abuja-Kaduna highway is one of the most terrorised, with numerous cases of kidnapping for ransom despite the deployment of military officers to stop the attacks. 

However, the resumption of operations of the Abuja-Kaduna train has reduced the number of cases, as many people prefer to take the train instead of driving to avoid being kidnapped. 

According to people familiar with terrorist operations in the Northwest, the train attack could have been motivated by a lack of ransom from victims who stopped following the dangerous road. 

According to them, the train has become a stumbling block in the operation of the terrorists along the highway, who are not getting enough victims from whom to extract ransom. 

They added that until the train resumes service, there will likely be an increase in cases of kidnapping for ransom along the Abuja-Kaduna highway, as many people have no choice but to travel by road.

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Aliyu Dahiru

Aliyu is an Assistant Editor at HumAngle and Head of the Radicalism and Extremism Desk. He has years of experience researching misinformation and influence operations. He is passionate about analysing jihadism in Africa and has published several articles on the topic. His work has been featured in various local and international publications.

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