At least 21 members of the terrorist sect, Boko Haram, who were detained at the State Security Service (SSS) headquarters in Abuja, lost their lives yesterday during a failed jailbreak attempt.
The Sunday morning incident shattered the peace of the highbrow Asokoro, which plays host to the high and mighty of society including the official residence of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as the sporadic shooting sent shivers down the spine of many in the city.
The aftershock was felt across the country as initial reports suggested the Aso Rock Villa had come under attack from insurgents but the presidential spokesperson later assured Nigerians that President Goodluck Jonathan was safe and well, saying the shooting was from the SSS headquarters.
The SSS later doused the tension when it announced that there had been an incidence of attempted jailbreak.
The detainee, who coordinated the failed jailbreak, died in the ensuing melee while some detained insurgents and three SSS operatives were injured.
The SSS said 18 of the detainees were killed during the attempted jailbreak. Three, who were injured, later gave up the ghost in the hospital.
The service also said two of its operatives were seriously injured.
The SSS gave the breakdown in a statement by its Deputy Director, Public Relations, Marilyn Ogar.
The statement said: “Following our earlier releases, it has been established that eighteen (18) casualties were recorded, while two (2) Service personnel sustained serious injuries.
“Three (3) other detainees who sustained gunshot injuries during the incident have also died.
“Meanwhile, investigation is still ongoing to ascertain the immediate and remote causes. Any other detail will be communicated”.
Ms Ogar had in her first reaction to the incident said it occurred during the breakfast session for the detainees.
According to her: “One of the suspects attempted to disarm him by hitting him at the back of his head with his handcuff.
“His attempt to escape drew the attention of other guards at the facility who fired some shots to warn and deter others.
“The gun shots attracted the attention of the military with whom we have an understanding of mutual assistance in the event of any threat.
“The Army immediately deployed a team to reinforce our perimeter guards to forestall any external collaborators. The situation has since been brought under control. Further details will be communicated”.