ABUJA, Sept 13 (Reuters) – Heavily gunmen stormed a prison in south-central Nigeria late Sunday, blowing up a perimeter fence and releasing 266 inmates – almost all in jail, authorities said.
A soldier and a police officer were killed in the attack and two guards went missing, the interior ministry said. It was the second largest prison in Nigeria this year.
The attackers used explosives to destroy the fence from three sides and fought with gunmen with guards at the Kabba Central Security Prison in Kogi State, southwest of the federal capital Abuja, authorities said.
Nigeria is battling security problems across its vast territory, including armed robberies by criminal gangs, an Islamic insurgency in the northeast and a host of mass school kidnappings in the northwest. Read more
Twenty-eight of the 294 prisoners in Kabba had not escaped, the interior ministry said, meaning 266 had escaped. The prison service had initially set the number of fugitives at 240.
It was the second prison strike this year after gunmen attacked a prison in Owerri in the southeastern state of Imo in April, releasing more than 1,800 inmates. Read more
Police blamed Owerri prison for a banned separatist movement, the Biafra Indigenous People (IPOB), which is campaigning for the separation of several southeastern states from Nigeria. The IPOB denied any involvement.
Kogi State is not part of the region that IPOB wants to see secession. Authorities said the Kabba attackers had not been identified and they did not suggest a reason for the raid.
The prison service said the Kabba prison was established in 2008 with a capacity for 200 inmates. At the time of the attack there were 224 detainees and 70 perpetrators sentenced to prison, he said.
The suspects could spend years in detention in Nigeria. Human rights groups say prisons are often overcrowded and legal procedures inefficient.
The interior ministry said there were 15 soldiers, 10 police officers and 10 armed prison guards on duty at Kabba Jail at the time of Sunday’s attack.
Reporting by Camillus Eboh and Felix Onuah, written by Estelle Shirbon; Editing by Toby Chopra and Andrew Heavens
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