Children under 50 detained 100 days after two attacks in Nigeria

ABUJA, Nigeria – At least five children are among the 50 people still detained by gunmen who attacked a passenger train near Nigeria’s capital, their families said on Wednesday as they held a protest demanding more action by authorities to rescue the hostages .

As families protested over the 100 days their relatives have been held captive following the attack in the northwestern state of Kaduna, Nigerian police rejected claims that “not enough is being done” to save the victims, who are among the thousands who either has been abducted or killed in the last year as the West African nation faces continued armed violence.

In late March, gunmen attacked the train with explosives and gunfire, killing seven people and abducting dozens of others.

Although no one has been arrested in connection with the attack, police are “still in the process of gathering intelligence from locals” to find and rescue the hostages, Kaduna police spokesman Mohammed Jalige told the Associated Press on Wednesday.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, which authorities blamed on armed groups that have often targeted remote communities in northwestern Nigeria with the help of Islamic extremist insurgents.

More than 100 passengers from the train were initially missing, but some were later released by the kidnappers under conditions not disclosed. In June, the Nigerian presidency said the Abuja train wreckers “made a demand for the release of their own children.”

When the hostages ‘families protested in Kaduna, asking the authorities to “work faster and do more,” AbdulFatai Jimoh, chairman of the families’ union, said they had only one key demand: “We want them (the government) to work faster on this, because the longer our people stay in the bush, the more they are exposed to a lot of danger.

“We want them to speed up the negotiation process with the abductors of our family members so they can get out in the shortest possible time,” Jimoh told the Associated Press.

He said the families are also concerned about the health of the hostages, who are believed to be being held in large forest areas that often serve as hiding places for the armed groups, many of whom authorities have identified as former shepherds trapped in Nigeria’s pastoral conflict over access to water and land.

One of the abducted passengers was shot by the kidnappers, he said, while some others were reported to have become ill.

Abdulaziz Atta, whose 85-year-old mother and sister are among the prisoners, said he could not help but think of them.

“Imagine what they’ve been through in the bush and you have heavy rain everywhere,” he said. “Imagine an old woman there; at that age you need medicine, you need care, still wearing the same clothes, think of the bush, it is in the bush so they are exposed to reptiles, ”he added.

Atta’s sister, Adama Lawal Aliyu, who celebrated her 52nd birthday on Tuesday, has four children at home. “I will not remember the birthday; it just makes me sad, ”he said.

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