No fewer than 85 persons, comprising both travellers and residents, were said to have been abducted by terrorists at Katari along the Kaduna – Abuja highways near Katari, in the Kachia Local Government Area of Kaduna State.
It was also gathered that more than four residents were killed by the hoodlums.
The breakdown of those abducted by the bloodthirsty terrorists indicated that between Thursday and Sunday, January 7, 2024, a total of 85 persons were abducted.
The Kaduna State Police Command confirmed that there was a bandit attack on the Kaduna-Abuja Expressway at Dogon Fili near Katari.
However, the command was silent on the abduction of the travellers along the Kaduna-Abuja Expressway.
The Command’s Public Relations Officer, Mansir Hassan, stated that security operatives battled the terrorists before they fled in different directions.
The police spokesman noted that in the process, some travellers were caught in the crossfire, and they sustained varying degrees of gunshot injury.
He gave the names of those hit by bullets to include: Jibrin Tasiu (27), Jummai Abubakar (20 ); Zafira Abubakar (11 ) and; AbdulKarim Nurudeen (two), Chinedu Jerry Moneke (37) and Ayo James ( 42).
He said those injured were rushed to the hospital for medical attention.
The statement was titled, “Security operatives engaged bandits in a fierce battle along the Kaduna-Abuja Expressway.”
He said, “There was a heavy gun duel along the Kaduna-Abuja Expressway between security operatives and bandits on the 6th January 2024 at 2330 hours or thereabouts.
“The incident occurred when the bandits in their large numbers attempted to cross the said expressway at Dogon fili area heading towards Jere axis and were engaged in a fierce shootout by the well-alerted security agents, who dislodged the hoodlums and ensured a lot of them only escaped but with gunshot wounds.
“Hence, the Police Command is calling on the public around that axis to be on the watch for any person or persons nursing suspected bullet injuries and report the same to the closest Police station or any security outfit.
“In the course of the battle, commuters plying the highway were caught in a crossfire, of six persons sustained varying degrees of bullet injury.”
The police described the incident as “an unfortunate isolated incident in a long time as the Kaduna-Abuja Expressway has since been fortified for the use of commuters thus.”
However, The Punch correspondents who visited the area on Tuesday, gathered that over 30 travellers were abducted.
It was learnt that 55 other persons were picked up by another set of hoodlums in the three communities of Badoko, Dudumishini and Kwakware villages, all in Katari.
The District Head of Bishini, comprising Katari, Doka, Ariko, Kworotsho and other villages, Yohana Sarki, told news correspondent that despite the huge presence of the military along the highways, villages under his domain were being attacked every day.
Sarki said, “The government is doing its best, but they need to deploy more security operatives.
“Yesterday, we found two lifeless bodies lying, and I had to order the vigilantes to evacuate the bodies. They are trying. I am calling on the government to equip our vigilantes in order to complement the efforts of other security agencies.”
Recounting his ordeal, a resident who is also a leader in the village, also told correspondent that those attacking Katari and its environs were foreigners who spoke the Fulani language.
He said, “What happened on Sunday, January 7, 2024, for instance, was that bandits blocked the major highway. We were told that some travellers travelling to Abuja and other places were abducted. I could not, as a matter of fact, ascertain the number of those abducted.
“But before then, the bandits in their huge numbers had attacked some villages around the Katari general area and abducted several locals, and about four others were killed.
“At Dudumishini village, the bandits abducted no fewer than 30 residents while some escaped. There are no fewer than 25 people with the hoodlums now and also at Kwakware village, about 35 were picked by the terrorists while some escaped, leaving about 30 with them. All these happened a few days to when the incident on Sunday occurred.”
The Chief Imam of the Katari Central Mosque, Suleiman Mohammed, equally confirmed the Sunday attack
He said, “Precisely 9.30 pm on Sunday, 7, 2024, I was home when I heard gunshots all over. I later got to know that bandits in their large numbers and bearing dangerous weapons struck. They blocked the entire Kaduna-Abuja highways around the Katari axis, and some travellers along the road from Abuja were taken away while some escaped.
“Eyewitnesses told us that several travellers, in the range of 30, were taken away by the bandits. That was what I was told. They might be more than that.”
When asked if the terrorists had called to demand ransom, the cleric said: “Normally, the bandits don’t call to demand for those abducted along the road. They contact individual homes to demand ransom. Those abducted were travellers, not residents.
“Assuming they kidnapped residents, they would call us within two or three days to demand ransom.”