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Attackers armed with machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades launched a concerted attack in southeastern Nigeria, freeing over 1,800 inmates.

According to local resident Uche Okafor, the attacks started about 2 a.m. Monday in Owerri, a town in the state of Imo, and lasted around two hours. According to officials, gunmen also attacked other police and military buildings.

“Efforts are in top gear to re-arrest the fleeing detainees,” said Nigeria prison spokesman Francis Enobore, adding that 35 other inmates stayed behind during the prison break.

The coordinated attacks follow another outbreak of violence in southeastern Nigeria, in which at least a dozen security officers were killed in attacks on four police stations, military checkpoints, and prison vehicles.

The Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and its Eastern Security Network (ESN), a paramilitary arm of the secessionist movement active in the area, were blamed by the Nigerian inspector general of police.

“Preliminary investigations have revealed that the attackers… are members of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra,” said Frank Mba, a spokesman for the Nigeria police force.


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