Nigeria: gunmen abduct “nurses and infants” from hospital

A map showing Zaria in Nigeria

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.

Reports say the number of people taken by the group is higher and includes nurses and children.

Recently there has been a wave of kidnappings from schools and universities for ransom.

Police said the gunmen, believed to be from 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 as another group attacked the dormitories of health center workers,” a resident told 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.

Kidnappings are common across the country.

Last February, nearly 300 schoolchildren were abducted from a school in Zamfara State.

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 who are largely 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, the northern state of Kaduna finds itself in the eye of the kidnapping storm in Nigeria.

This latest attack is shocking insofar as it would involve three infants, 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 few 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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