Gunmen Storm Hospital of Baby Pulled From Rubble

Hospital denies it was an attempt to kidnap baby Aya
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 14, 2023 12:15 PM CST
Gunmen Storm Hospital of Baby Pulled From Rubble
A baby girl who was born under the rubble caused by an earthquake that hit Syria and Turkey receives treatment at a children's hospital in the town of Afrin, Syria, Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2023. The infant, who has since been named Aya, Arabic for "sign from God," is one of untold numbers of orphans.   (AP Photo/Ghaith Alsayed)

Gunmen stormed a hospital in north Syria where a baby girl is receiving care after being born under the rubble of her family’s earthquake-shattered home, a hospital official said Tuesday, adding that the attackers beat the clinic's director. The official denied reports on social media claiming that the Monday night attack was an attempt to kidnap the infant, named Aya—Arabic for “a sign from God.” Aya has been at the hospital since hours after the Feb. 6. earthquake that hit Turkey and Syria. Her mother, father, and four siblings died in the disaster. Aya has been closely followed since her birth and people from around the world have been offering to adopt her.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the hospital’s director had suspected that a nurse who was taking pictures of Aya was planning to kidnap her and kicked him out of the hospital. The nurse returned hours later accompanied by gunmen who beat up the director, the official said, per the AP. The director's wife has been breast-feeding Aya, her doctor said previously. Upon arrival at the hospital, the gunmen told local police officers protecting the girl that they were going after the director for firing their friend and were not interested in Aya, according to the official. Several people had shown up falsely claiming to be Aya's relatives, prompting local policemen to guard her, the doctor said previously.

Aya may be able to leave the hospital as soon as Tuesday or Wednesday, according to her great-uncle, Saleh al-Badran. He said the baby’s paternal aunt, who recently gave birth and survived the quake, will raise her. Rescue workers in the northern Syrian town of Jinderis discovered the dark-haired baby girl more than 10 hours after the quake hit, as they were digging through the wreckage of the five-story apartment building where her parents lived. Buried under the concrete, the baby still was connected by her umbilical cord to her mother, Afraa Abu Hadiya. The baby was rushed to the hospital in nearby Afrin, where she has been cared for since. (More Turkey-Syria earthquake stories.)

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