Access reef in Nigeria: Survivor of train hijacked by armed gang reveals harrowing details

Musa Bashir Usman was one of more than 300 people on a train from the Nigerian capital Abuja to the northern city of Kaduna when it was attacked by one armed gang On Monday.

A statement posted to Facebook by Kaduna State Department of Homeland Security and Interior Affairs Commissioner Samuel Aruwan and signed by Special Advisor to the Governor Muyiwa Adekeye called the incident a terrorist attack.

Usman told CNN on Thursday that the train was hit by two blasts before gunmen opened fire on trapped passengers.

“About 25 minutes before the end of the journey, there was the first explosion. It was dark and the train’s electrical system went out… All we could see were burst lights (fireworks). The train was still moving and within 30 seconds there was a second explosion that derailed the train. The next thing we heard was sporadic gunfire… gunshots everywhere, through the windows,” Usman said.

After bombing the tracks, the gunmen surrounded the train cars and opened fire, Usman said.

The train traveled from the Nigerian capital of Abuja to the northern city of Kaduna.

At least 26 people were injured in the attack, according to Adekeye. An unknown number of passengers were kidnapped from the train, Nigeria’s state media outlet NAN reported.

The military and other security agencies are conducting search and rescue operations to recover the kidnapped passengers, according to NAN.

It is the second time in the past six months that a train along the Abuja-Kaduna railway line has been attacked.

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Chinelo Megafu, a dentist, was among the eight people killed Monday, her father confirmed to CNN.

Usman told CNN that Megafu said she was shot after she and other passengers ran into his section of the train.

“People ran from other trainers into the trainer I was in. I think she (Megafu) was among them. As she entered, she ducked beside me. And that’s when I heard her say that she was shot. I asked her how she knew she was being shot and she said she could feel it. I asked her to touch the place where she felt the pain and she said she could feel some liquid there… There was nothing I could do about that situation except give her hope that we would be saved.

“Someone gave her water in hopes it would revive her while I took out my seat blanket and fanned her with it. I could see by her breath that life was draining away from her. After about an hour [and] 30 minutes, the rescue team came in and started the evacuation,” Usman said.

“A Beautiful Future”

Megafu graduated from the faculty of dentistry at Port Harcourt University in Nigeria’s southern region in 2016, a faculty official told CNN on Thursday.

“She was very brilliant and had a beautiful future,” one of her tutors, Modupeoluwa Soroye, told CNN. “We are still in shock, the Faculty of Dentistry is in mourning.”

“She was one of us and so young,” Soroye added.

A friend of Megafu’s family told CNN on Thursday that she was due to leave Nigeria for Canada this weekend.

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“From that day (Monday), the incident happened that she would have been to Canada in five days to start her master’s program,” said Dapo Akintunde, a friend of Megafu’s father.

Ifeanyi Megafu, the dentist’s father, told CNN on Friday: “I’m in the middle of so many problems now, including [the] Funeral…I’m trying to see how I can get my daughter out of Kaduna.”

Her death was described as “tragic, appalling and preventable” by the Nigerian Medical Association.

Nigerians have mourned Megafu’s death, and many have expressed outrage at the country’s deteriorating security.

One of Megafu’s friends, Dr. Olusina Ajidahun told CNN, “It is sad that uncertainty overtook her before her time. Her death is really touching. Nigeria has failed Chinelo. Nigeria failed to protect them.”

The Kaduna state government has not identified the gunmen who carried out the attack.

In recent years, kidnapping for ransom has become an ongoing problem across Nigeria.

Days before the access reef, marauding gangs known locally as “bandits” shot and killed an airport guard as they roamed the Kaduna Airport fence, the Nigeria Airspace Management Authority told local media.

This followed a series of street attacks and kidnappings committed by notorious gangs in the troubled northwestern state.

A train is pictured at a train station in suburban Abuja on July 26, 2016.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari said he was “deeply distressed” by Monday’s attack, calling it “callous” while ordering the country’s military to deal “ruthlessly” with terrorists.

The Nigerian railway company on Tuesday announced a temporary closure of the Abuja-Kaduna line following the train robbery.

Nigerian Transport Minister Chibuike Amaechi said Wednesday that train services would resume “with air security provided by the Air Force” once the damaged tracks were repaired.

It is unclear when train services will resume on the route.

The access reef comes amid a plethora of problems plaguing Nigeria as locals grapple with ongoing fuel and electricity shortages.

The weeks of shortages have compounded the hardship for citizens already grappling with inflation and soaring food prices, as scarce petroleum products sell for double or nearly triple their price on the unregulated black market. Access reef in Nigeria: Survivor of train hijacked by armed gang reveals harrowing details

Charles Jones

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