Terrorists Free Seven More Abducted Train Passengers
•Terror kingpin, others neutralised in military airstrikes in Kaduna, North-west, North-east, 29 others killed
•Amao reviews operations in Kaduna
John Shiklam in Kaduna and Kingsley Nwezeh in Abuja
Seven of the remaining 39 abducted passengers of the March 28 Abuja-Kaduna train attack have been freed by their abductors.
Tukur Mamu, media consultant to Sheikh Ahmad Gumi, a Kaduna-based Islamic cleric, who has been at the forefront of mediations for the release of the victims, disclosed this in a statement yesterday in Kaduna.
The statement said a total of seven hostages, which included a family of six, were released on Wednesday morning.
Five hostages were earlier released on August 2.
With the release of the seven hostages, 32 others are still being held by the terrorists.
The statement said the release of the seven victims, which was “due to Gumi’s efforts,” with the support of a serving senator from the north who desired to remain anonymous.
The statement said, “This is to confirm to the world that due to Sheikh Gumi’s efforts and with the support of a serving senator from the north, (a God fearing personality that doesn’t have any relationship with the hostages), who chose to remain anonymous, that all the family of six have regained their freedom on Wednesday morning.”
It added that among those released was a 60-year-old woman, Hajia Aisha Hassan, who was said to have been freed due to life threatening health challenges.
The statement listed the names of the six family members as: Abubakar Idris Garba; his wife, Maryama Abubakar Bobbo; their four children- Ibrahim Abubakar Garba,10; Fatima Abubakar Garba, 7; Imran Abubakar Garba, 5, and the youngest, Zainab Abubakar Garba,1.
The statement said Abubakar, the head of the family, was the son of bedridden Maj. Gen Idris Garba (rtd), an indigene of Niger State, who served as military administrator of Kano and Benue states during the military administration of General Ibrahim Babangida.
The statement noted that Gumi prayed for the immediate release of the remaining victims and urged government to intensify efforts towards securing their freedom.
He said the delay in releasing the remaining victims was unnecessary, adding that their release is possible once the right approach is taken.
But the statement did not say whether any ransom was paid.
On March 28, terrorists attacked an Abuja-Kaduna bound passenger train, killing eight people, abducting 62 passengers, while many others were injured.
So far, 30 people have been released, while 32 are still being held captive.
Some of the 30 people released were said to have paid as high as N100 million ransom to the terrorists for their freedom.
Meanwhile, a notorious terror leader, Alhaji Shanono, and about 18 other terrorists were neutralised in the ongoing operation by the Nigerian Air Force in the North-west.
In a statement on Wednesday, Director of Public Relations and Information, Air Commodore Edward Gabkwet, said over 30 riffles and 20 motorcycles were destroyed during the airstrike.
Gabkwet said Shanono was killed in an airstrike on Tuesday, following intelligence reports that the criminal had scheduled a meeting with his foot soldiers at Ukambo, a village about 131 km from Kaduna.
At least 26 kidnapped victims earlier held by the terrorists were said to have been released as a result of the airstrike.
Gabkwet said, the Chief of Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Oladayo Amao, who was in Kaduna yesterday to review the operations, gave further directives to troops as intensive air operations were being sustained in the entire military theatres of operation.
He said, “NAF aircraft continue to seek and decimate enemies of the state in their attempts to make life unbearable for innocent Nigerians.
“From the briefings received by the CAS, it is evident that so far, the directives given to the operational commanders is yielding the requisite outcome.”
The statement noted that Amao, while addressing the commanders, reminded them of the need to remain steadfast and focused on the task ahead.
“We can’t afford to let down our guards,” the statement quoted the CAS as saying.
The statement said, “In the North-west specifically, the effect of strikes undertaken by NAF aircraft have revealed that several terrorists have been eliminated and their enclaves destroyed.
“One of such strikes, which occurred yesterday, August 9, 2022, resulted in the elimination of a well-known terrorist leader operating in Kaduna State.
“Indeed, following receipt of intelligence on August 9, 2022 that a well-known terrorists’ kingpin, Alhaji Shanono, had scheduled a meeting with his foot soldiers at Ukambo, a village about 131 km from Kaduna, the Air Component of Operation Whirl Punch dispatched aircraft for interdiction mission at the location.
“Overhead the location, terrorists were sighted under clusters of trees at the foot of Ukambo high ground and after ensuring the absence of civilian settlements within the location, the crew received the authorization to strike.”
According to the statement, “Feedback from local sources disclosed that over 30 rifles and 20 motorbikes were destroyed while about 18 terrorists, including Alhaji Shanono, were neutralised with others sustaining various degrees of injuries.
“Sources also revealed that not less than 26 kidnapped victims earlier held by the terrorists were released as a result of the airstrike.”
Gabkwet said similar strikes were also undertaken in the North-east as well.
He said, the Air Component of Operation Hadin Kai was fully engaged in conducting air interdiction missions on terrorists’ targets in Borno State.
Gabkwet said, “One of such operations was conducted on 6 August 2022 at Gazuwa, about 1.2 kilometres to Gargash, after intelligences revealed that infighting for relevance and supremacy was underway between terrorists of the Shekau faction and terrorists aligned to Islamic State of West Africa (ISWAP).
“The state of confusion and disorder among the two terrorists’ factions thus presented an opportunity for a surprise strike by NAF pilots, which was carried out using two aircraft types.
“It should be noted that though the map coordinates led the pilots to the exact site of the infighting, the location also had an ISWAP flag hoisted on the structure and three solar panels on the rooftop.
“Intelligence received and corroborated by local sources revealed the strike was a success as the terrorists did not anticipate it with several of them eliminated and others injured.”
The statement said the impact of the airstrikes reverberated through the remaining terrorists’ camps.