At least 15 passengers were reportedly abducted by heavily armed gunmen suspected to be bandits on Sunday along the Tsakskiya-Ummadau road in Safana Local Government Area of Katsina State.
But police said only nine were abducted and four had been rescued by Operation Puff Adder.
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The passengers were ambushed in their vehicle as they returned from Jibia market at 3pm.
Their vehicle, a J5, had registration plate KZR 345ZT.
It was gathered that 15 of 18 occupants were kidnapped by the bandits said to number over 20, according to a witness.
One Aliyu Rumawa, who witnessed the incident, confirmed the abduction of the passengers in a telephone interview on Monday, saying the gunmen upon seeing the vehicle, started shooting sporadically in the air to frighten the victims before abducting them.
“Fifteen out of 18 passengers in the bus were taken away by the bandits, numbering about 20 and were heavily armed. The passengers were returning from Jibia market and most of them are traders.”
He called on the security agencies in the state to intensify surveillance in villages and communities in Safana and other affected local government areas of the state in order to curtail the problems of banditry, kidnapping and other criminalities bedeviling the state.
However, the Police spokesman in Katsina, Gambo Isah, while confirming the incident to pressmen, gave different numbers.
“They were nine passengers not 15 abducted. What happened was that on Sunday at about 15:30 hours, bandits abducted about nine passengers in a J5 bus with registration number KZR 345ZT,” said Isah.
“After the incident, the DPO led a team of Operation Puff Adder into the forest. They were able to rescue four among those passengers, while the remaining five victims were taken away by the bandits. Efforts are on by our operatives to rescue the remaining passengers.”