Bandits have aducted 21 passengers on board a bus belonging to the Niger state Transport Authority (NSTA) on Sunday afternoon at Yakila village in Rafi local government of Niger state.

The bus was said to be traveling from Kontagora town to Minna, the state capital before it was intercepted by the bandits.

Blueprint learnt that all the 21 passengers were matched into the forest by the gunmen while shooting sporadically.

Eye witness account stated that there was panic around the area as villagers ran for safety.

Blueprint however, gathered that the Yakila general area has become bandits enclave with series of attacks during which the traditional ruler of the area was recently kidnapped and later killed.

It was learnt that the Chief of Staff to the Niger state Governor, Ibrahim Balarebe arrived the scene of Sunday kidnap incident barely three minutes after it occurred.

Balarebe was said to be coming from Kagara headquarters of Rafi local government after an official engagement and that he got to the spot just as the bandits hurried into the forest.

The Director General of the Niger State Emergency Maganagement Agency, Mallam Ibrahim Inga, confirmed the incident in a telephone conversation.

Inga who was on his way from Kagara for the revalidation of his All Progressives Congress (APC) membership in company of the Chief of staff said they met the scene where the bandit operated.

He explained that they met a woman with her child who was left by the bandits who told them that other 18 passengers in the bus have been taken away.

According to him, “The only thing I can tell you now is we have rescued the woman and her baby and she is in the vehicle with us and we are on our way to Minna. She told us that the bandits blocked the way and went away with other passengers in the bus.”

He said no government official was among those kidnapped, adding, “I can’t give more than that for now because the woman is traumatised and we cannot be asking her too many questions for now.”

He however promised to get back to our correspondent when he gets back to Minna with more information.

Meanwhile, efforts to speak to the Police Public Relations Officer in the state, Wasiu Abiodun, was unsuccessful as he neither picked his calls nor responded to messages.