Armed men in Nigeria have freed 11 out of more than 60 passengers of an Abuja- Kaduna train who were abducted in late March, bringing the number of released passengers to 14.
Kaduna-based newspaper publisher and member of the negotiation team, Tukur Mamu, made the announcement in the publication, Desert Herald, on Saturday.
He said released victims include six females and five male passengers and that they were set free in the Kidandan forest where they were picked up. Mamu said the armed men had initially agreed to free all the female passengers who were kidnapped.
He also said the move was facilitated by Muslim cleric Ahmad Gumi and that they’re negotiating the release of the remaining hostages.
On March 28, gunmen bombed the tracks of the moving train in Kaduna and opened fire on passengers scrambling to safety. Nine people were killed and dozens went missing.
VOA had reported Kaduna resident Gideon Gambo’s two brothers were among the missing passengers. Gambo says he received news from the negotiators that both of them are among those who were recently freed.
“Two of my brothers and the other lady that works with them were among the ones that were released,” he said. “They’re in Abuja; we don’t know where exactly so I’m planning to come to Abuja tomorrow by God’s grace. The guy that actually did all the negotiations called me on Monday to ask me to identify my brothers on the picture which I did, so it’s true that they have been released.”
Nigerian authorities and police have yet to comment on the incident.
Last month, security experts warned that the negotiations for the release of the remaining hostages could be deadlocked after the kidnappers demanded authorities free their men who had been captured.
Nigeria is seeing a wave of violence across many regions roughly one year ahead of the country’s next elections. Last Sunday, armed gangs invaded a church, detonated explosives and shot at worshippers, killing at least 40 people.
On Thursday authorities in Kaduna said gunmen killed 32 people in an attack and burned many houses.