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Two Weeks After Attack, Terrorists Release Video of Abducted Train Passengers, Demand Ransom
*Kaduna Govt awaits information on trending video of neutralised terrorists loaded on vehicle
* 166 still unaccounted for as FG vows to leave no stone unturned, says security agencies working on releasing kidnapped victims
*Troops crush 30 ISWAP fighters as air strikes hit insurgents in Niger who infiltrated Lake Chad
*17 terrorists reportedly killed in Kaduna Community
Kingsley Nwezeh in Abuja, John Shiklam in Kaduna and Peter Uzoho in Lagos
Terrorists responsible for the bombing of an Abuja-Kaduna bound train yesterday released a video in which over 30 victims were seen pleading with the federal government to meet the demands of their abductors.
In a related development, the Kaduna State government yesterday said it was awaiting operational feedback from security agencies on a trending video showing soldiers ‘dragging’ suspected criminals into an open boot of a military pickup truck.
This comes exactly two weeks after the Abuja – Kaduna train was bombed by terrorists, an ugly incident that left eight persons dead, with several others injured and scores whisked away even as some family members of those abducted recently protested in Abuja, appealing for the federal government to intervene and help them rescue their relatives.
However, the federal government yesterday assured that it would do everything necessary to see to the release of those still being held hostage by the terrorists.
The assurance from the federal government came as it emerged that troops of the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) at the weekend eliminated 18 fighters of Boko Haram and Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) in a massive joint clearance operation in the fringes of the Lake Chad.
Similarly, about 17 terrorists were said to have met their waterloo in Kakura community, Chikun Local Government Area of Kaduna state when residents engaged them in a fierce battle.
So far, only the Managing Director/Chief Executive of the Bank of Agriculture (BoA), Mr. Alwan Ali Hassan, who was among those kidnapped during the terrorists attack on the Abuja – Kaduna train attack has been released, with 166 still unaccounted for. Before his release, Hassan was last week seen in a video standing among the terrorists wearing cream Jalabiya.
Terrorists had on March 28 blown up rail tracks on the Abuja-Kaduna route. It was gathered that an expectant mother and her husband, a couple and two sisters were among those being held by the terrorists.
In the video seen by THISDAY, a female student of Kaduna State University, pleaded with government to kindly meet the demands of the terrorists.
“Am talking on behalf of the students, government should please come to our aid”, one of the female students said while surrounded by about eight gun-wielding terrorists.
Some of the victims’ families last week staged a peaceful protest at the Radio House in Abuja, with placards appealing to the federal government to do more in ensuring that they are released.
“I have my sister who is seven months pregnant with her husband. Words cannot explain what they are going through and what we are going through. Please, the government should do the needful and let this come to an end as soon as possible.
“They should try as much as possible to reach out to the perpetrators and rescue our loved ones. There are children there, pregnant women, the sick, the aged and only God knows what they are going through.
They have been in captivity for ten days, so you can only imagine what they are going through and how it is affecting g us.
“Whatever we do, we think of them. When we eat, we think of them. When we sleep, anything we do, we think of them. We are pleading with the government to please do the needful so that this situation will come to an end as soon as possible,” Aliyu Mahmud, a relative of the seven-month pregnant woman had said.
On his part, another protester, Aminu Uthman, said: “My immediate younger brother and his wife are amongst the victims. It is a nightmare and the most difficult ten days I have has in my life. I cannot sleep or eat. A lot of things are going wrong.
“The bandits called only once and they gave him the phone to speak to us. They are yet to make any request but they called and he is with them. We voted for this government because of insecurity. We had the trust that they would address insecurity. This protest is not for the family members alone; it is for Nigerians generally. This thing can happen to anybody.”
But speaking with THISDAY yesterday, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said the federal government, “would leave no stone unturned to ensure that those that were abducted are released.”
Muhammed, said work was ongoing; insisting that the government would not relent, “and we are not giving up at all,” to make sure that all those abducted are released alive.
However, he declined to comment on specific efforts being made by the government to ensure the release of those affected.
“I may not be in a position to tell you the level of progress being made, but what I can tell you is that I am fully in touch with the authorities and I know that a lot of work is going on,” he said.
When asked about what efforts were being made to ensure that the incident doesn’t repeat again, Muhammed said: “You know, when things like this happen, what you do is to ask yourself about efforts that had been made in the past to forestall this kind of thing, what effort are you making today to ensure that it doesn’t happen again. And if you followed my press conference, I have been able to draw out the various steps the federal government has taken to ensure better security platform, and all security agencies.
“The federal government would accelerate the procurement of the necessary surveillance and security equipment not just on the Abuja-Kaduna railway; but also the Warri-Itakpe as well as other railways.”
Responding to a question that a lot of Nigerians and the families of those still being held hostage by the terrorist feel the government was not doing enough to get them released, Mohammed said: “It is very unfortunate that Nigeria is in the current situation. But anybody who is familiar with terrorism would know that it is an unconventional war.
“Over the past one week, I have drawn out efforts being made by the federal government to ensure that militancy, cultism and others are curbed.
“But we are winning the war, we have the statistics and unlike the bandits, we cannot be announcing everyday our successes. We know from the thousands that are surrendering in the north-east that we are winning.
“I can assure you is that everything is being done to address this and the military is doing its best.”
In reacting to the attack, President Muhammadu Buhari had said his government would not let anyone hold Nigeria to ransom. The president, who had reiterated his call on the military to be ruthless with terrorists and other criminal elements, however, directed the security agencies to arrest the perpetrators of the attack and also ensure, without further delay, the release of all the kidnapped passengers on the ill-fated train.
The Chief of Defence Staff, General Irabor had said the security agencies would build on the lessons they have learnt from the latest incident, while assuring Nigerians that the military and other security agencies would not rest on their oars until everywhere was secured.
According to him, “The challenge of insecurity is a constant one and so the defence and security agencies need to be on their toes 24/7. This is unfortunate and we believe that the lessons out of this are what we need to build upon going forward.”
Also, Governor of Kaduna State, Mallan Nasir El-Rufai, who had expressed frustration during the incident, had advised the military to bomb the terrorists’ hideouts instead of waiting for them to attack.
El-Rufai had said the camps and phone numbers of the terrorists were known by the military agencies, adding that the army should go after them and wipe them out.
“We have enough intelligence for us to take action. The air force undertakes enough ISR (intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance), and the DSS has informants all over the place,” he had said.
Troops Crush 30 ISWAP Fighters as Air Strikes Hit Insurgents in Niger
Troops of the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF), weekend eliminated 18 fighters of Boko Haram and Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) in a massive joint clearance operation in the fringes of the Lake Chad.
The clearance operation came as air strikes hit foreign insurgents from Niger Republic, who reportedly infiltrated the country and killed a top ranking Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) Commander, Abubakar Dan-Buduma, who was recently appointed the group’s commander of its naval forces.
It was gathered that the week-long operation swept through Malam Fatori, Gashigar, Talata Ngam,
Larki A & B and Kagarwa, notable hideouts of terrorists along the border villages in Abadam Local Government Area in Borno State.
Military sources said troops of the MNJTF inflicted heavy casualties on the two terror groups – Boko Haram and ISWAP – in a fire-fight in Gashigar after they confronted the force.
Sources said that the gun battle which lasted for hours resulted in the elimination of 10 Boko Haram/ISWAP terrorists, while four of their guntrucks were destroyed.
The sources explained that two soldiers were wounded in action while nine AK-47 rifles and one bicycle, among other items, were recovered in the aftermath of the encounter.
“The force subsequently continued its advancement toward Talata Ngam. Contact was made at Larki, a border village which was said to be a meeting point of the insurgents, during which three terrorists were killed and one gun-truck was destroyed,” the source added.
“The enemy also attacked own troops in their harbour area near Kangarwa. The attack was decisively dealt with which resulted to the killing of five more Boko Haram/ISWAP criminals and recovering of five Ak 47 rifles two motorcycles, rounds of ammunition and over 40 bags of beans destroyed,” he said.
A military update said the unrelenting task force continued local clearance operations in search of the adversaries around Baga. The insurgents took to their heels as the force projected towards Garere and Cross Kauwa.
The update said the successes were achieved under the MNJTF Operation Lake Sanity and Desert Sanity Phase 2, Operation Hadin Kai.
It said renewed vigour to flush out the remnants of the terrorists around the fringes of the Lake Chad region and other parts of the North-east was in line with the determination to ensure an end to the war and restore total peace in the country.
The Force Commander of the MNJTF, Maj Gen Abdul Ibrahim, while charging the Task Forces of Operation Lake Sanity charged them to maintain the momentum towards routing the terrorists from their enclaves.
He also assured that the MNJTF and Operation Hadin Kai would continue to work together towards restoring total sanity in the Lake Chad region.
“Both the Force Commander MNJTF and the Theartre Commander Operation Hadin Kai have commended the troops and urged them to remain steadfast and dogged.
The troops were equally tasked to carry out unrelenting pursuit of the terrorists since others were given the opportunity to surrender and they did.
“The sustained ongoing battle and regional efforts of the Airforce of Nigeria, Niger and Cameroon have been very phenomenal”, the Force Commander, Maj Gen Abdul Ibrahim, said.
Meanwhile, foreign insurgents from Niger Republic reportedly infiltrated the country and killed a top ranking Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) Commander, Abubakar Dan-Buduma, who was recently appointed the group’s commander of its naval forces.
But air strikes carried out by MNJTF eliminated, Abubakar Dan-Buduma, and 19 other fighters in the Nigeria’s North-east of Lake Chad.
Dan-Buduma and his foot soldiers were eliminated in a coordinated intelligence-led ground and aerial bombardment by the Nigeriene Air Task Force, under Operation Hadin Kai and Multi National Joint Task Force (MNJTF) in Kwalaram village in Marte Local Government area of Borno state.
17 Terrorists Reportedly Met Their Waterloo in Kaduna Community
About 17 terrorists were said to have met their Waterloo in Kakura community, Chikun Local Government Area of Kaduna state when residents engaged them in a fierce battle.
Details of the incident were sketchy as at press time, however the criminals were said to have invaded the community located near the Millennium City area of Kaduna metropolis in the early hours of yesterday.
Members of the vigilante group in the community were said to have resisted the criminals who came in large numbers, engaging them in fierce gun battle.
Sources said security forces were immediately alerted and they joined forces with the vigilante group, leading to the killing of about 17 of the terrorists while several others were reportedly arrested.
Their weapons were also said to have been seized by security agencies. The arrested terrorists who sustained injuries were said to have been taken to the St. Gerald Catholic hospital, Kaduna, for treatment.
However, the hospital authorities were said to have out rightly rejected them for security reasons.
An official of the hospital who pleaded to remain anonymous, confirmed the development, saying, “some wounded terrorists were brought to our hospital by soldiers, but we rejected them and asked the soldiers to take them to the 44, Nigerian Army Referral Hospital.
“We told them that we don’t accept terrorists in our hospital because it has serious security implications.
A video clip purportedly be of the incident has gone viral on the social media.
In the video, soldiers could be seen loading some corpses and together with those arrested in a Hilux van.
Mohammed Jalige, spokesman of the Kaduna state police command did not respond to telephone calls when contacted.
Also, in a statement the Kaduna state government said it could not confirm the viral video, “allegedly showing security forces parading neutralised and arrested bandits in a location around Chikun LGA.”
The statement signed by Samuel Aruwan the commissioner for Internal Security and Home Affairs said, “The Kaduna State Government has received enquiries from the media and citizens over a video being circulated on social media platforms, allegedly showing security forces parading neutralized and arrested bandits in a location around Chikun LGA.
“It is necessary to clarify that as at this time, the Kaduna State Government has not received feedback from security agencies regarding any such operations.
“Therefore no information can be provided at this time on the veracity of video clips making the rounds.
Aruwan said, “The Kaduna State Government is awaiting feedback from security agencies on operations being conducted across various locations of interest.”
He added that, “As soon as precise operational feedback is received, updates will be provided to the media and citizens”.