•Outrage as 15 persons killed in Katsina community
John Shiklam in Kaduna and Francis Sardauna in Katsina
Terrorists, who attacked and abducted passengers in the Abuja-Kaduna train on March 28, have threatened to killed those they are holding hostage if the federal government does not meet their demands within seven days. This was disclosed by the publisher of a Kaduna- based newspaper, Desert Herald, Tukur Mamu, who is also a media consultant to the Islamic cleric, Sheikh Ahmad Gumi, who has been campaigning for dialogue with the terrorists.
The ultimatum came as suspected terrorists, yesterday, killed no fewer than 15 persons and left many others with varying degrees of injury at Gakurdi village, in Jibia Local Government Area of Katsina State
Mamu said the terrorists called him by telephone and told him that the federal government started talking with them, but abruptly suspended the discussion.
In the telephone conversation, which he published in his newspaper and shared on his Facebook page, alongside a one-minute, forty-one seconds audio clip, the terrorists accused the government of insincerity in securing the release of the abducted passengers.
Mamu said the terrorists insisted that government must fulfil their demands, emphasising that they don’t want money.
Mamu quoted Abu Barra, the leader of the abductors, who spoke with him by telephone in Hausa language, as saying, “We don’t need money. We have a good reason for doing what we did, until our demands are met none of the victims will come out alive even if it means we all die with them.
“They are well taken care of as you can see from the pictures we sent to you via WhatsApp but we assure you that this will not continue.
“We chose you (Tukur Mamu) to convey this important message to the government, the families of the victims and Nigerians, in general, because we believe you won’t alter our message and we have seen you severally with Sheikh Gumi in the forest. Therefore, we recognised the fearlessness in you.”
Barra noted that it had been two months since the abduction, warning that anything could happen to the abducted passengers henceforth, according to Mamu. He disclosed that Barra also said the reason for the abduction was to retaliate the arrest and detention of their children by the security agencies, and demanded their release.
Mamu further quoted the leader of the abductors as saying, “Our children numbering about eight between the ages of one to seven years are currently being held at an orphanage in Jimeta, Adamawa State, under the supervision of the Nigerian Army.
“The names of our children are: Abdulrahman, Bilkisu, Usman, Ibrahim, and Juwairiyyah. They were forcefully taken from our wives in Nasarawa and taken to the orphanage in Yola.
“For any continued discussion on the release of these passengers and a safe resumption of the train service, our children must be released unconditionally.
“Only then we will release some of the abducted victims, especially the women while other passengers will be released on a prisoner exchange with some of our arrested comrades by the government.”
Mamu said Barra threatened that if within seven days the government did not respond to their demands, they would stop feeding the victims and would start slaughtering them one after the other. He added that if the government failed to respond after that, the Abuja-Kaduna rail line as well as the Kaduna-Abuja high way would be no-go areas for Nigerians, Mamu said.
According to Mamu, Barra stated, “If the government decided not to respond, so be it. We are warning Nigerians, especially those that are patronising the train, that if this matter is not resolved peacefully, the day they decided to attack us or do anything funny, passengers or commuters should forget using the train or following the Abuja-Kaduna road because we will be consistent and they can’t stop us.
“We believe that you will deliver this message as it is.”
The terrorists also claimed that the planned resumption of train services along the Kaduna-Abuja rail line, which was expected to start on Monday, was suspended because of fear.
Meanwhile, in Katsina State, suspected terrorists killed at least 15 persons and left many others injured at Gakurdi village, Jibia Local Government Area.
The incident had put residents of the community, who survived the deadly invasion, on edge, as many currently took refuge in other villages.
The motorcycle-riding terrorists were also said to have burnt food and non-food items belonging to residents of the village during their operation that lasted an hour.
A traditional leader in the area, who craved anonymity, told THISDAY in a telephone interview that the incident was one of the most recent attacks in the state.
According to him, “The terrorists attacked the community in the early hours of today (Tuesday) and killed 15 people. They entered the community on many motorcycles when most of the villagers were still asleep.
“Most of the victims were those who were running to neighbouring villages, while some of them were killed on their farms. I learnt that many people were also injured by the terrorists.
“We are calling on the state government to come to our aid by providing a police outpost in this village to prevent future occurrence. We are afraid because these people may come back.”
However, the state Police Public Relations Officer, Gambo Isah, while confirming the incident, told journalists that the terrorists killed 12 people in the community.
The superintendent of police added that the villagers were killed while attempting to escape into their farmlands and nearby villages when the suspected terrorists stormed the community.
Isah said the Commissioner of Police, Idris Dabban, led a team of security operatives to the village for an on-the-spot assessment of the incident and normalcy had been restored in the community.
He said, “The incident is true. The bandits were at the village this morning (Tuesday) and killed 12 villagers. Some of those killed included those attempting to escape to their farmlands. The Commissioner of Police had led a team of security operatives to the village this morning.”