One week after gunmen attacked a train with explosives in northwestern Nigeria, the whereabouts of 168 passengers are still unknown, the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) says.
At least eight people were killed and many others missing on March 28 when gunmen detonated a bomb on the tracks and opened fire on the train linking the capital Abuja with the northwestern city of Kaduna.
In a statement late Sunday, the NRC said of the 362 passengers on board the train when it was attacked, 186 had been confirmed safe.
The NRC said of the remaining 176 passengers, eight have been confirmed dead, leaving the whereabouts of 168 still unknown.
It said efforts were still under way to rescue the missing passengers.
The March 28 attack was the latest deadly assault blamed on heavily armed criminal gangs known locally as bandits in the region.
The corporation said damaged tracks and coaches were being repaired while services on the Abuja-Kaduna route had been “temporarily suspended”.
Two days earlier, gunmen killed a perimeter security guard in an attack at Kaduna airport before armed forces intervened.
Gunmen also attacked the same railway line with explosives in October.
Bandit gangs in the northwest and central Nigerian states have long terrorised communities, conducting mass kidnappings for ransom, raiding villages and stealing cattle.
But their violence has intensified. Tens of gunmen arrive by motorbike, sometimes attacking several villages, killing and abducting residents.
Gunmen have also kidnapped people on the highways between the capital and cities such as Kaduna and the northwestern commercial hub of Kano.
Nigeria’s military has been carrying out operations and air raids to clear these bandits out of their camps hidden in forests across several states in the northwest. But the violence has continued.
Security forces are also battling a 12-year armed campaign by Boko Haram and the Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP) in the northeast that has killed 40,000 people and displaced more than two million more.