By Ibrahim Hassan-Wuyo, Kaduna
“In my presence, the terrorists shot a co passenger of the train on the head and killed him. Then they moved over to me and dragged me by the neck, pointing a gun at my head. Only God can tell why I was not killed”.
That was a chilling account of a survivor of last Monday night attack of a Abuja- Kaduna train by some terrorists.
Nine passengers of the train have been officially confirmed dead and several others injured and receiving treatment in hospitals. Many others of the over 300 passengers were abducted by the bandits.
Friends, relations and loved ones of those who died during the night attack have continued to mourn even as some of the survivors recounted their harrowing experiences.
A survivor of the attack, Malam Umar who narrowly escaped death, said he was yet to overcome the trauma. According to him, “the terrorists shot a co passenger on the head in my presence. After killing him, they moved over to me and dragged me by the neck while pointing a gun at my head. It is only God who can tell why I was not killed.
“But contrary to what some said that the killers were speaking a foreign language, I heard one of them speaking very good English.
“I am a graduate but that terrorist spoke better English than I could.
The incidence keeps haunting me as I’m always frightened and disturbed, feeling as if the terrorist’s gun is still on my head, waiting for the trigger to be pulled. It’s traumatic”.
Another survivor, One Sodangi, in his own account said, “ So sad. I was busy reading my holy book and the phone of someone next to me buzzed. The guy quickly picked and his first word was ‘Noor’, and conclusively I said this must be his wife. The young man’s smile while on call was infectious. I couldn’t eavesdrop what they were saying but within a jiffy a heavy explosion interrupted. Bullets started to penetrate into our coach. When the shooting subsided, I looked around. The young man was lifeless on the floor. But his phone was still flashing and buzzing continuously, so I picked the call. The next thing I heard was ‘Baby Naji kara Mara dadi, hope Lafiya’( meaning..baby I heard an unpleasant sound. Hope it’s well). I couldn’t narrate the situation of her husband to her, I couldn’t tell her, her husband was dead. I was terrified and I wept. A minute later, she sent a text message telling her deceased husband, ‘I made your favorite’. When the security operatives arrived I handed over the phone to them and told them ‘the phone belonged to that guy lying down’. I cried throughout and couldn’t sleep that very day”.
While narrating his own ordeal, another survivor, Malam Muhammadu, said, “I was in coach SP 17 when the train was hit and derailed. The terrorists, who were many, rushed into our coach and killed a passenger. I hid under the seat but saw them taking away many passengers.
“An argument ensued amongst the terrorists after killing the passenger and they couldn’t pay attention to us. We were about 10 that remained in the coach when they left.
“The terrorists then proceeded to the VIP coach and abducted many passengers. One of the VIPs who managed to escape and returned told us that the terrorists filled a vehicle with abductees. They came with Sharon vehicles and shot some people.
“We saw the train driver. He came out and attempted to run but they shot and killed him. I saw the terrorists with my own eyes, they were shouting Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar! Come down, come down.
“I was hiding under the seat praying. It remained about two steps for the terrorists to get to me but after killing a passenger, they went out arguing among themselves.
“They abducted many passengers. Later about 300 soldiers came. The soldiers took us to a nearby hill where we sat down. They said vehicles would come to convey us to Kaduna. The soldiers attended to those who were injured.
“The soldiers also asked us not to make noise and to put out light because we could still be in danger. We were at a place after Rijana, about 20 minutes ride to Rigasa Kaduna.
“Some old people had trauma, one old person had asthmatic attack while another slumped and died, possibly of heart attack. The dead bodies were left in the train as at the time they were guiding us out because it was difficult to convey the corpses to the hill top where we took refuge.
“We were traumatised for about two hours. The soldiers exchanged fire with the terrorists. They chased them and rescued some passengers, but we were really traumatised. The soldiers however killed some of the terrorists.
“The soldiers carried wounded passengers on their backs, before vehicles arrived and conveyed survivors to the hospitals”.
On her hospital bed, another survivor, Maimuna Ibrahim who also recounted the incident said, “it happened at about 8 pm when all of a sudden, we started hearing gunshots from outside and we immediately lay down inside the train. The bandits however gained access into the train by forcing the doors open. I did not know that they shot at my right thigh while I was lying down. It was when soldiers came for rescue operation that they saw that I was bleeding and they rushed me to the hospital”.
Another survivor, Fatima Shaibu who had bruises on her body said, “the bandits rushed into the train twice and abducted passengers into the bush. I saw them, they put on veils around their faces. They are young men of 18 to 20 years of age. They were shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’ and they spoke in foreign language. They did not speak English, they did not speak Fulani, and they did not speak Hausa”.
Alhaji Ibrahim Wakkala, a former Deputy Governor of Zamfara State, was full of thanks to Almighty Allah and to the soldiers who came to their rescue.
He said he escaped with bullets in his body and was in hospital for treatment.
For Yusuf Atta, his mother and sister were kidnapped alongside other passengers. He said they had been away to Saudi Arabia for the lesser Hajj. On their arrival in Abuja, their hope was to catch the evening train and proceed home. Sadly, the terrorists cut short their journey after bombing the train. They were not killed but they were forcefully taken away into captivity
Families, friends mourn
At the National Board for Technical Education ( NBTE) in Kaduna, it was an expression of grief. A director in the board, Abdul Kofar Mata was shot by the terrorists in the ill fated train and was confirmed dead.
His friend and colleague, Muhammadu Rabiu Yunus said “I really lost a very close friend and a colleague. We spoke that fateful day and I was asking him, why are you going by train today? But he said, “kasan banajin tsoransu”, which means in English language, “you know I’m not afraid of them”. We never knew that was the last time we would talk to each other. May Almighty Allah rest his soul.”
At the Saint Gerard’s Catholic Hospital in Kaduna, the staff also mourned the death of Dr Chinelo Nwando who was killed by the terrorists in the train attack. The late doctor was described as one of the best hands in the hospital.
According to a source, the doctor was returning from Abuja where she went to process documents that would enable her travel overseas to meet her parents.
The Medical Director at Saint Gerard’s Catholic Hospital, Dr Cletus said that 11 of the survivors of the train attack were referred to Army Reference Hospital because of their complicated cases.
He said only two survivors were still receiving medical attention at St Gerard’s hospital, while two have died, including Dr Chinelo who was a staff of the hospital.
A colleague of the late doctor said “she did her NYSC in the hospital and when the management saw that she was very good, they employed her. But last month she resigned because she said her parents asked her to join them in Canada.
“So, she traveled to Abuja to process her traveling documents. It was when she was coming back to Kaduna by rail that she was killed in that incident. She was very young and hardworking,” he said.
For a popular film actress, Rahana Sadau, she and her sister narrowly missed the ill fated train as they came to the train station late. She however lamented that some of her friends still boarded the train that was attacked by the terrorists.
The train in recent years had been an inevitable alternative mode of transport to many because of the spate of kidnapping along the Kaduna-Abuja road. A day hardly passed without report of people being kidnapped, killed or maimed on the road.