Some 440 inmates still at large after suspected terrorist raid on Nigerian prison

Photo: Reuters

Around 440 inmates are on the run after a suspected raid by Islamist Boko Haram militants on a prison in Nigeria's capital Abuja on Tuesday night, Dr Shuaib Belgore, the country’s Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Interior, reported.

The raid, and a separate ambush on an advance convoy of Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari - who was not present - heading to his hometown in the northern state of Katsina, highlights Nigeria's going security challenges, especially in northern regions where armed insurgents and gangs are rife.

Shuaib Belgore, permanent secretary at the interior ministry, told journalists outside the Abuja prison - which has 900 inmates - that a security officer was killed during the raid and three others were injured.

During a press conference, he also confirmed that an NSCDC (Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps) operative was killed during the fight.

“There have been several attacks on our facilities, most of them being repelled, but every now and then, there is a successful one. In this one, they [the attackers] came very determined, with explosives,” Mr Belgore said. “The initial entry attempt was unsuccessful, then they attacked another section of the wall with higher-grade explosives which brought the wall down.” “The forces on the ground did everything they could to repel them but the number they came with was high, which they were not able to defend against. They kept on fighting gallantly. Unfortunately, the breach happened,” he added.

"They came specifically for their co-conspirators, but in order to get them ..., some of them are in the general (prison) population so they broke out and other people in that population escaped as well but many of them have returned," Belgore said.

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