KADUNA, Nigeria (Reuters) – Gunmen have released 11 passengers who were abducted during a train attack in northern Nigeria at the end of March, a government minister said, though dozens of others are thought to remain in captivity.
Gbemisola Saraki, the minister of state for transportation, said in a statement late on Saturday that the government was working to ensure all the kidnapped passengers were released.
The freed passengers were taken to a hospital in Abuja. Saraki did not say how and where they were released, or if ransom was paid.
Armed gangs, known locally as bandits, blew up the track on the Abuja-Kaduna route in the north of the country and opened fire on the night train on March 28, killing eight people.
Nigeria’s state railway company initially said it could not account for 168 people who according to a passenger log had booked to travel on the train. Most were later traced to their homes, but 65 were confirmed missing.
Video released by the suspected bandits has since shown a number of people in captivity who identified themselves as passengers from the train.
“As grateful as we are for this positive development, we are equally mindful of the anguish of all the victims and their families, who have unfortunately endured and (are) still enduring unimaginable trauma since the tragic incident,” Saraki said.
Bandits have killed and abducted hundreds of people for ransom in northern Nigeria, leaving citizens terrified.
Marking Democracy Day on Sunday, President Muhammadu Buhari said Nigerians were worried by rising insecurity, but promised his government was working to contain the situation and ensure a safe and secure general election in early 2023.
“I am living daily with the grief and worry for all those victims and prisoners of terrorism and kidnapping,” said Buhari in a televised speech.