Nigerian rail company says 168 missing after attack on train

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LAGOS, April 4 (Reuters) - The Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) cannot account for 168 people following an attack on a train last week in which eight people were killed and several wounded, the company has said.

Suspected bandits blew up the track on the Abuja-Kaduna route in the northwest of the country and then opened fire on the night train in the late March 28 attack. read more

NRC managing director Fidet Okhiria said in a statement late on Sunday that 168 people were unaccounted for. He did not say if all were passengers or if some NRC staff were among them.

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The company had not previously said how many were missing.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack but gunmen have roamed northwestern Nigeria and abducted hundreds of school children and villagers for ransom over the past five years, killing dozens of people.

Some relatives of the missing have said suspected bandits had contacted them to say they were holding their loved ones. read more

Okhiria said the mobile phones of 146 of the missing people had been either switched off or ringing without a response since early in the morning after the attack. He did not say why he believed those people were not answering their phones.

The governor of Kaduna state governor accused the Islamist insurgent group Boko Haram of being in cahoots with the kidnapping gang in the train attack, though he cited no evidence, the BBC reported at the weekend.

The militants have not issued any claim for the attack and they are more active in northeastern Nigeria than the northwest.

Okhiria said 186 people from the train had reached home safely, while only 22 people had been reported missing by their families.

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Reporting by MacDonald Dzirutwe; Editing by Robert Birsel

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