According to the prisons authority, over 1,800 inmates fled from a Nigerian prison in the south-eastern city of Owerri following an assault by gunmen wielding rocket-propelled grenades, machine guns, explosives, and rifles.
The Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), an outlawed separatist group in Nigeria, was suspected of being behind the attack, but a spokesman for the group denied involvement.
President Muhammadu Buhari faces many serious security threats, including a decade-long Islamist insurgency in the north-east, a series of school kidnappings in the north-west, and piracy in the Gulf of Guinea, to name a few.
“The Owerri Custodial Centre in Imo state has been attacked by unknown gunmen and forcefully released a total of 1,844 inmates in custody,” a Nigerian Correctional Service spokesman said in a statement.
According to him, the attackers raided the facility at about 2:15 a.m. local time on Monday.
Police said in a separate statement that the attackers used explosives to blow up the prison’s administrative block and then breached the prison yard.
Tensions in the south-east have risen in recent months as a result of allegations that IPOB’s paramilitary arm, the Eastern Security Network, was involved in military clashes.
“Preliminary investigations have revealed that the attackers … are members of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB),” said Frank Mba, a spokesman for the Nigeria Police Force.
However, an IPOB spokesperson told Reuters over the phone that the company was not involved.
Since January, several police stations in south-eastern Nigeria have been targeted, with large quantities of ammunition stolen.
The attacks have not been claimed by any organisations.
Source: ABC World News