Gunmen kidnap staff and a baby from hospital in Nigeria

Officials say attackers abducted up to eight people from a hospital in Kaduna State, northwest Nigeria.

Nigeria security
Authorities said security officers were working to rescue those kidnapped from the hospital [File - Olamikan Gbemiga/AP]

Gunmen kidnapped up to eight people, including the one-year-old child of a nurse, from a hospital’s staff residential quarters in northwest Nigeria, while assailants simultaneously attacked a nearby police station, police and hospital officials said.

Kaduna state has been hit by a wave of kidnappings for ransom by armed men. Zaria, where the National Tuberculosis and Leprosy Centre hospital is located, has been particularly hard-hit, and the attack was the third on the hospital.

The attack in the early morning hours of Sunday lasted for roughly an hour, hospital spokesperson Maryam Abdulrazaq told Reuters news agency.

She said six people had been abducted: two nurses, one with her one-year-old child, a laboratory technician, a security guard and one other staff member.

Police gave the number of hostages as eight.

“So far, (there was) no ransom demand,” Abdulrazaq said. “We have not heard from the bandits since they took them away.”

In a separate statement, Kaduna police spokesman Muhammed Jalige said that a “large number” of armed men from the same group attacked the divisional police headquarters at roughly the same time “in an attempt to overrun the officers on duty”.

Jalige said police repelled the attack after a heavy exchange of gunfire, injuring some of the attackers. Police recovered dozens of shell casings from rifles and machine guns.

He said officers were working to rescue those kidnapped from the hospital.

Criminal groups, known as “bandits” by the authorities, terrorise parts of the northwest and centre of Nigeria.

They attack villages, steal cattle and kidnap people for ransom.

They operate from camps in the Rugu forest, which sprawls across Zamfara, Katsina, and Kaduna states in Nigeria, as well as Niger.

Most are motivated by material gain, although some have sworn allegiance to armed groups in northeast Nigeria, hundreds of kilometres away.

Recently there has been a spate of attacks by such groups against schools and universities, with mass abductions of students for ransom.

More than 800 students have been abducted since December, at least 150 of whom remain missing.

Source: News Agencies