Gunmen in Nigeria’s capital abducted six people from the staff quarters of a university, officials said Tuesday.
It was the first attack of its kind in Abuja since a wave of school kidnappings began in the country more than a year ago.
Abuja University’s Vice-Chancellor Professor Abdul-Rasheed Na’Allah said that a total of six people had been kidnapped, including three children.
University employee Murtala Muhammed, who was on campus premises when the abductions happened, told The Associated Press that the gunmen launched their attack around midnight.
Video from the scene showed military personnel surrounding the premises.
Police spokesperson Josephine Adeh said security forces have launched a rescue operation.
Barrister Bassey and Professor Ubom Bassey were among members of staff whose child was abducted, their nine-year-old son.
“Let the world know, (the kidnappers) came and carried us from our bed, they carried machetes and hit my son in the back, a child of nine years. And they carried us away. Luckily, because we were three from my family they had to send me back… and they took the rest away” said Barrister Bassey, showing photos of her son. “Let the world know, I’m in pain.”
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the kidnappings, but suspicion immediately fell on a suspect who has been blamed for scores of similar abductions for ransom.
Professor Bassey said that Nigeria’s security situation was to blame.
“It’s only when we are all dead that people will know that there’s insecurities in this country,” he said.
Some 1,400 students have been kidnapped during attacks on schools in Nigeria over the past year. Many were later released after reports of large ransoms were paid.
Until Tuesday, however, all of the attacks took place in more remote locations.
Security experts have told The Associated Press that most of the kidnappers are former Fulani herdsmen who became caught up in Nigeria’s prolonged conflict between farmers and nomadic cattle herders.