At least 15 people were killed on Sunday and many others abducted when kidnappers blocked the Kaduna-Abuja expressway around 5 pm, witnesses said.
The incident happened around Gidan Busa, a village not far away from Rijana, which is 133 kilometres to Abuja.
It was gathered that nearly 20 vehicles were forced to stop at the bushy and sloppy location when the gunmen laid siege. The location had no security presence at the time of the attack, witnesses told Daily Trust on phone.
They said apart from the over 15 people reportedly killed by the gunmen, many others including women and children were kidnapped and taken to the bush.
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Witnesses said the kidnappers armed with sophisticated weapons stormed the highway and opened fire on unsuspecting travellers who were heading to Abuja from the Kaduna axis.
The attackers blocked the traffic after firing shots at speeding vehicles, which forced them to stop. It was learnt that some people who attempted to flee were shot.
“The first vehicle to be attacked was an 18-seater bus, which was fully loaded,” a witness who gave his name as Mamman, told the Daily Trust on phone. He said he was on his way to Abuja from his home town in Katsina.
“I am among the survivors; I saw everything that happened. I participated in evacuating the death from the road,” he said.
While giving a graphic description of what happened, Mamman said bullets hit the driver of the first hummer bus and killed him instantly, forcing the vehicle to wobble for seconds and then stopped across the road.
“There were three vehicles in front of ours when the kidnappers suddenly appeared on the road and started shooting sporadically.
“The two buses and a wagon in the front were the first to be attacked. They opened fire on them. The first one moved unsteadily from side to side before it stopped.
“The second hummer bus and a saloon car were also affected. Our vehicle, a Volkswagen Golf car was the fourth in the line facing the gunmen and when our driver noticed what was happening, he veered off the road,” Mamman said.
According to him, “Many vehicles coming from behind, I think nearly 20 of them were forced to stop also. Many passengers, who have the agility, including those in our vehicle, took to their heels.
“I didn’t run away and I don’t know why; I only moved closer to the median of the road and squad. I saw when the attackers shepherded some of those kidnapped into the bush,” he said. Mamman said after some time, the police arrived at the scene.
“Some policemen came to the rescue and I also participated in recovering some of the people killed and those who sustained injuries from gunshots.
“The vehicles that blocked the road were cleared by the police and some good Samaritans and that was when people started moving. I dropped on the way to Abuja because I was heading towards Bwari,” he said.
Malam Mu’azu, who lives around the area, confirmed that kidnappers have resurfaced along the Abuja-Kaduna expressway.
“I was not at the scene of the attack but an acquaintance who passed through the location said he saw what happened.
“This (Abuja-Kaduna road) is a dangerous route once again. There was a respite some months ago when security operatives took serious action against the kidnappers but it seems they have gone to sleep again.
“The whole stretch from Jere, which is little over 70 kilometres from Abuja is no longer safe. Kidnappers now lay siege around Kurmin Kare, Gidan Malam Mamman up to Rijana,” he said.
According to Daily Trust there is a big security hub at Katari, a village located 92 kilometres from Abuja.
Different security operatives including anti-kidnap squad, other police operatives, the army, civil defence and road safety personnel, among others, had been stationed around Katari.
They were meant to act with dispatch whenever the need arose.
Locals said there was the need to check the resurgence of breaches along the highway, which is the only artery that takes people from the South and the FCT to the North West and parts of the North East.
In the last few years, hundreds of people have been killed on the road while families of those kidnapped had to pay ransom to free their loved ones.
Meanwhile, Kaduna State Government has disclosed that troops carrying out internal security operations rescued nine persons kidnapped along the Kaduna-Abuja Road on Sunday afternoon.
The state government who made the disclosure in a statement, signed by the Commissioner, Ministry of Internal Security and Home Affairs, Samuel Aruwan
said that it received operational feedback from the Defence Headquarters’s Operation Thunder Strike (OPTS) following Sunday’s incident, and inquiries from citizens on the development.
The statement revealed that troops of the Operation Thunder Strike on a routine patrol along Akilubu-Gidan Busa axis on the Kaduna-Abuja road, received a distress call at around 4PM, of bandits blocking the main highway.
“The armed bandits opened fire on a bus, forcing the driver to halt.
“On getting to the location, the armed bandits had already kidnapped nine persons from an 18-seater bus with registration No. Kaduna: MKA-151.
“The troops immediately mobilized and engaged the bandits in a firefight and in the process rescued nine persons kidnapped who later rejoined their colleagues after their rescue and a head count. (Pictures attached).
“Regrettably, the driver and a passenger seated close to him lost their lives.
“The Kaduna State Government sends its condolences to their families and prays for God to grant them eternal rest.
“Following this summary from the military, the government assures citizens and commuters plying the route that any emerging developments regarding the unfortunate incident will be communicated.
“The government also assures citizens of Kaduna State that it will continue to work hard, in collaboration with the Federal Government to improve the security of the highway. It is also working with the Governments of Zamfara, Katsina, Niger, Nasarawa, Plateau, Sokoto and Kano States, as well as the Military, Police, DSS and relevant stakeholders on enhancing the security situation in the region.” Aruwan assured.