Authorities in central Nigeria are searching for suspects after attackers used explosives to derail a train late Monday and then opened fire on passengers. Nearly 1,000 people were on board at the time of the attack, as Timothy Obiezu reports from Abuja.
Kaduna State commissioner for Internal Security and Home Affairs Samuel Aruwan said Tuesday that injured passengers had been taken to the hospital and the military has completed the evacuation of other passengers from the site, including those hiding in nearby forests.
There were about 970 people aboard the night train traveling from Abuja to Kaduna when it was derailed by explosives planted along the tracks. The attackers also shot at the train as it crashed to a halt.
At least seven people were reported dead from injuries following the attack, including a female medical doctor who broadcast news of the attack on Twitter.
Some other passengers are missing and may have been kidnapped. Kaduna state resident Gideon Gambo said two of his brothers are among those missing.
"I gathered that their concentration was the first-class coaches. Unfortunately, my brothers were in the first class, so they took everyone in the first class and went with them," said Gambo.
No one has claimed responsibility for the attack and police have yet to name any suspects.
Kaduna is enduring a wave of violence that has left many residents angry and afraid. Last week, more than 80 people were killed in a spate of attacks by armed gangs in the state.
On Sunday, gunmen invaded the Kaduna airport and killed an official.
Beevan Magoni is a Kaduna activist and resident. "People are being killed on a daily basis. How many times have you seen that bandits have been arrested? We're tired of being killed, we're tired of everything, this is frustrating," said Magoni.
Security analyst Kabiru Adamu said the escalation could be political.
"Very soon, the primary for the ruling party in Kaduna will be held. We've also seen an increase in the supposed collaboration between these gunmen and the terrorists operating in northeast of the country, in particular the use of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) as an attack vector seem to be increasing simply because of this partnership," said Adamu.
Millions of Nigerians had turned to the railway to commute between the Nigerian capital and neighboring Kaduna state after armed gangs began targeting and kidnapping people along the commonly used Abuja-Kaduna expressway.
The Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC) has now suspended its operations along the Abuja-Kaduna routes. A prominent Nigerian airline, Air Peace, has also halted its operations in Kaduna.