By Garba Muhammed
KADUNA (Reuters) – 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.
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 from tacital, anti-kidnapping and other units were working to rescue those kidnapped from the hospital.
Kidnappings for ransom have become endemic in northern Nigeria. More than 800 students have been abducted since December, at least 150 of whom remain missing.
(Reporting By Garba Muhammed in Kaduna, additional reporting by Camillus Eboh in Abuja; Writing by Libby George; Editing by Peter Graff)