Medics, patients kidnapped in Nigeria hospital attack

Gunmen have abducted at least 10 healthcare workers in Nigeria’s Niger state and killed an unspecified number after bandits invaded a general hospital early on Tuesday, a hospital and military source said.

Armed bandits operating for cash have kidnapped or killed hundreds across northwest Nigeria.

Niger state officials have said that Islamist militant group, Boko Haram, had taken over multiple communities in the state, offering villagers money and incorporating them in their ranks to fight the government.

The hospital source said more than 20 staff were kidnapped, including patient relatives, while the security source said two people had been killed after the gunmen invaded the general hospital in Lapai local government in large numbers.

Niger State Governor, Sani Bello, said a number of people were killed during Tuesday’s attack at Gulu General Hospital and unspecified number abducted, including medical workers. He did not specify how many had been killed.

Separately, Dr Dare Godiya Ishaya, President of the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors (NARD), told Reuters that 20 NARD members have been kidnapped this year, causing some of them to leave the country partly due to lack of safety.

Boko Haram insurgents have taken over multiple communities in Nigeria’s north-central Niger state, offering villagers money and incorporating them in their ranks to fight the government, a local government official and the state’s information commission told Reuters.

The Islamist group is typically concentrated in the northeast of Africa’s most populous nation, and its presence in Niger, a state that borders the federal capital territory, could indicate a concerning spread at a time the military says its counter-insurgency efforts were working.

Suleiman Chukuba, Chairman of Shiroro local government area in Niger state, which borders Abuja, said Boko Haram fighters were now present in at least eight wards out of a total 25.

“Shiroro local government has an uncountable number of Boko Haram fighters,” Chukuba said.

Boko Haram, whose name roughly translates as “Western education is forbidden”, has waged an insurgency since 2009, joined more recently by its offshoot, Islamic State West Africa Province. The fighting has killed almost 350,000 and displaced millions, according to a United Nations estimate. -Reuters

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