Nigeria: gunmen abduct nurses and infant from Zaria hospital


A map showing Zaria in Nigeria

Gunmen in Nigeria kidnapped at least eight people from a hospital in the northwest of the country, police said.

The attack took place at the Zaria National Tuberculosis and Leprosy Center early Sunday morning.

Two nurses and a 12-month-old child were among those seized, a hospital spokesperson said.

There has recently been a wave of kidnappings from schools and universities for ransom.

Reports of another mass kidnapping at a school near the town of Kaduna, about 80 km (50 miles) southwest of Zaria, were also released on Monday.

The mother of a 15-year-old girl who was kidnapped from Bethel Baptist School told the BBC that 140 schoolchildren were seized by a large group of gunmen who arrived on motorcycles and smashed the fence.

Police have yet to comment on the information, but a local Christian leader said there were 180 students at the school, only 20 of whom had been counted so far. However, he said some of them may have escaped.

Police said the gunmen who attacked Zaria hospital, believed to belong to criminal groups known locally as “bandits”, opened fire on a police station in the town.

While they were engaged in the shooting, another group attacked the hospital.

“The attack on the police station was a distraction while another group attacked the dormitories of the health center workers,” said a resident of the AFP news agency.

The group fled with the victims to a nearby forest.

A hospital worker, who asked not to be named, told BBC Hausa that the gunmen abducted at least 12 people, including three children under three and a teenager.

A local government official said troops were stepping up efforts to locate the victims.

More than 1,000 students have been taken away since December and nine have been killed. More than 200 students are still missing, some of whom are only three years old.

Authorities say recent attacks on schools in the northwest have been carried out by bandits, a loose term for kidnappers, armed robbers, cattle thieves and other armed militias operating in the area and primarily motivated by money.

Since the high-profile kidnapping in 2014 of 276 schoolgirls from Chibok High School by Islamist Boko Haram militants in Borno State, more and more armed groups have resorted to mass kidnappings of students.

No end in sight for the wave of kidnappings

Analysis by Mayeni Jones, BBC News, Lagos

Once again, Kaduna state in the north of the country finds itself in the eye of the kidnapping storm in Nigeria.

This latest attack is shocking in that it involves at least one infant, but it is not the first time that a hospital has been targeted.

In late April, armed men took two nurses to a hospital in Kajuru region, Kaduna state. Schools and universities in the state have also been repeatedly targeted by kidnappers since March.

The state governor told the BBC he believed kidnappers had come to Kaduna from other states because he had expressed his decision not to engage with the kidnappers in any way.

But now even Governor Nasir El Rufai has succumbed to pressure from the kidnappers – he recently removed his son from a local school he had enrolled in to promote confidence in public schools. He told the BBC he decided to take his son out to protect the other students. This latest move will embolden his critics who say his tough stance is counterproductive.

But kidnappings continue to take place, both in states where governors engage with kidnappers, and in states where they do not.

With little economic prospects for many young Nigerians and with security forces struggling to stop the wave of kidnappings, it’s hard to see how this kidnapping crisis will end.

Click here to see the interactive BBC


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