Islamic State claimed responsibility for Wednesday’s attack on a Nigerian prison in the capital, Abuja, which freed about 440 prisoners, raising fears that the rebels were advancing through their enclave in the northeast.
Interior Ministry Permanent Secretary Shuaib Belgor told reporters outside Abuja Prison – which has 900 inmates – that one security officer was killed and three others were injured in Tuesday night’s raid. He said the suspected Boko Haram attackers had come for the jailed members.
“They came specifically for their co-conspirators, but to get them … some of them are from the general (prison) population so they broke up and other people in that population also fled but many of them have returned,” Belgore said.
A total of 879 prisoners escaped, the prison service said in a statement, 443 are still at large and the rest have been re-arrested. Four prisoners were killed and 16 others were injured.
“They have reported it to the police themselves, some of whom we have successfully pulled out of the hiding bushes,” Belgor said.
The raid sheds light on Nigeria’s security challenges, which are spreading through the northern regions where there are armed insurgents and gangs.
Outside the jail on Wednesday morning, the burnt remains of several vehicles with bullet holes were found, confirming gunfire in the surrounding area during the raid.
While a helicopter was hovering overhead, armed security officials brought a shirtless prisoner to a cripple with a wound on his leg, while another wounded prisoner was taken to prison.
President Muhammad Buhari visited the prison while on a tour of his hometown to prepare for the Muslim Eid al-Adha holiday. He questioned the prison’s intelligence system and demanded a report on the attack.
In a separate attack on Wednesday, Buhari’s convoy, led by an advance team of security guards, protocol and media officials, attacked people heading to the president’s village in the northern state of Katsina. Buhari was not in the convoy.
A spokesman for the president said in a statement that “the assailants opened fire on the convoy at the scene but were repulsed by the military, police and security personnel who were with the convoy.”
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