What’s Going On Special: A series of fatal attacks rock Kaduna

Prayers to survivors, family of victims, and everyone living under the dark cloud of imminent danger in Kaduna.

In the last few years, the insecurity that has plagued northern Nigeria has been exacerbated. In Kaduna, specifically, the turmoil has reportedly been ongoing for decades, in varying forms of conflict, from ethnoreligious killings to terrorist attacks.

2020 brought better awareness to the crisis in southern Kaduna, letting previously oblivious Nigerians in on the myriad of factors responsible for the rampant death toll, displacement and constant fear that’s become a part of daily life in one of the most populous states in Nigeria.

In the last few days, Kaduna has been in the news for fatal reasons, with attacks perpetrated by armed terrorists—recognised by the Nigerian government as bandits, and also colloquially referred to as unknown gunmen—rocking the state.

There’s been attack on several communities, on the state’s international airport, and the rail line between Kaduna and Abuja was viciously set upon by armed men. For this week’s edition of What’s Going On, we’re focusing on the recent happenings in Kaduna, while sending our prayers to survivors, family of victims, and everyone living under the dark cloud of imminent danger in Kaduna.

50 killed in bandits attack in Giwa local government area

Barely a week after 37 people were killed in Kaura local government area of southern Kaduna, armed terrorists killed at least 50 people in an attack on nine communities in Giwa local government. Confirmed by Mohammed Jalige, state police public relations officer, the incident took place between last Thursday night and early hours of the following Friday morning.

Speaking to Daily Trust, Mansur Ibrahim, a member of the vigilante group in one of the affected communities, reported that the terrorists burnt down houses, vehicles, motorcycles, while eloping with over 100 cows. “The villages affected were Dillalai, Zango Tama, Kaya, Barebari, Anguwam Bakko, Gidan Alhajin Kida, Kadayan and Durumi, among others,” Ibrahim stated. He also said that some of the victims who sustained gunshot wounds were receiving treatment at Ahmadu Bello University teaching hospital, Shika-Zaria.

Still reeling from that incident, there’s been no respite against attacks in Giwa local government. About 48-hours later, terrorists again invaded Hayin Kawa village, killing 15 people on Sunday Night. A local who spoke to Vanguard stated that the deceased victims were buried early Monday morning, while lamenting the frequency of these armed attacks. “Killings and Kidnappings in Giwa are getting out of hand, as people are being killed and kidnapped daily.”

Gunmen attack Kaduna airport

On Saturday, some unidentified gunmen forced their way into the compound of the Kaduna airport, killing an official of the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA). Mr. Shehu Na’Allah was patrolling the runway when the bandits invaded the airport through the perimeter fence from a nearby forest at about 1pm. Confirming the incident, airport manager Amina Salami stated that the armed terrorists shot Mr. Na’Allah, however, the sound of the shots fired alerted military personnel who were able to quell the situation.

“The sound of gunshots attracted the attention of armed security operatives who arrived at the scene, and were able to repel the bandits from gaining access into the main airport complex,” Salami said. While the incident delayed a flight that was bound for Lagos, the military authority has since stated that the attack happened six kilometres from the terminal, and they were able to kill 12 (of the reported 200) assailants through an air strike.

At the moment, local airlines are considering suspending flight operations to and from the Kaduna International Airport. According to The Guardian NG, Azman air, which had its flight delayed due to the situation, has suspended operations, pending the complete ease of the troubled zone. The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) has since reassured airline operators and passengers that “normalcy has since been restored,” stating that a heavy reinforcement team from the Nigerian Defence Academy will be helping to ensure the safety and security of airport workers and passengers.

Terrorist bomb and attack train carrying passengers on the Abuja-Kaduna rail track.

On Monday evening, a passenger train conveying over 970 passengers was attacked by armed terrorists. The terrorists blew up the rail tracks, forcing the Kaduna-bound, 1,000-capacity train to derail between Rijana and Katari, along the rail corridor in Kaduna. With the train engines damaged, the armed terrorists tried gaining access into the train, indiscriminately shooting at passengers, most of whom lay across the floor to avoid the gunfire.

News of the incident made it to social media in real time, with several survivors and victims sharing their experiences. According to Vanguard, Anas Iro Dan sent out a post to his Facebook page, giving a picture of what the passengers were going through. “Please, this is an emergency. We are inside the train at the moment. Kidnappers planted explosives on the train tracks and the train engines have been ruined, we are helpless.”

On Twitter, dental surgeon Chinelo Nwando Megafu sent out a distress tweet: “I’m in the train. I have been shot please pray for me.” Hours later, it was confirmed that she had passed, with a picture of her deceased body floating around Twitter. Chinelo’s last tweet elicited sympathetic responses from many, but it also drew tone-deaf responses from wicked sceptics who deemed her tweet as fake news. The Nigerian government has yet to address this tragic attack, and even though it has been confirmed by the Nigerian Railway Corporation and Kaduna state government, the slow response is symbolic of the slow and inept reaction to the fatal insecurity being endured by the people of Kaduna and northern Nigeria.