The gunmen who carried out a major attack on a train in Nigeria two weeks ago, sparking outrage in Africa’s most populous country, have released a new video of the hostages.
At least eight people were killed and an unknown number of passengers abducted in the attack, in which assailants threw explosives on rails to stop a train from the capital Abuja to the northwestern city of Kaduna.
In the video, which lasts about two minutes, about 20 people sit in a forested area. One of the hostages appears to be from Southeast Asia and another appears to be white.
Behind the captives are men standing in a line who appear to be holding arms.
“We are the passengers who left Abuja for Kaduna on Monday 28 March 2022. We were kidnapped on the way,” a man says in the video.
“There are women and children, old people with health problems,” he continues.
AFP has not been able to independently verify the authenticity of the video, which is circulating on social networks.
However, Alwan Ali-Hassan, the CEO of a bank in Nigeria who has since been released by the kidnappers and who was already featured in an earlier video, appears in the recording.
No known group has claimed responsibility for the train attack, but this latest violence has taken place in an area of northwestern Nigeria where heavily armed criminal gangs, known locally as “bandits”, attack, kill and kidnap.
The concern is growing over the methods used in this attack, including the use of explosives, the style of the first video and the accent of one speaker more reminiscent of jihadists operating in the northeast of the country, hundreds of kilometres away.
The governor of Kaduna State, Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai, accused the jihadis of being behind the attack.
Several analysts and a security source believe that fighters from the Al Qaeda affiliated jihadist group Ansaru cooperated with the bandits.
Ansaru, which split from Boko Haram in 2012, is the only known jihadist group to have been based in the northwest for several years.
The criminal gangs in the northwest act for financial reasons, without any ideological claims a priori. However, the possible alliances between bandits and jihadists are a source of great concern.