KANO, Nigeria

Gunmen believed to be bandits have abducted babies and staff from a health center in northwestern Nigeria, officials said on Monday.

Efforts are underway to rescue the victims, including three female nurses and five other staff, abducted from the National Tuberculosis and Leprosy Centre near the city of Zaria of Kaduna State, said police spokesman Mohammed Jalige, confirming the incident.

The bandits reportedly stormed the premises in large numbers, firing at officers from a nearby police station and blocking a bridge to thwart any reinforcements.

A staff member of the hospital, who asked not to be named, told Anadolu Agency that there had been a heavy shootout and that the chief security guard on duty was among those abducted.

“Those kidnapped were our staff living at the staff quarters, some were abducted alongside their children. So, about ten people were taken away so far,” he said.

The public relations officer of the center’s medical and health union, Maryam Abdulrazaq, also confirmed the abduction, adding that she had compiled six names of those abducted and was searching for those of the remaining four.

This was the third time the center’s staff was abducted, another union official said.

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