At least 600 inmates have escaped in a jailbreak in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital city, an attack that officials have blamed on Islamic extremist rebels, according to reports on Thursday.
Officials on Wednesday blamed the attack on Boko Haram extremists.
According to Nigeria’s Punch , several gunmen, believed to be terrorists, bombed Abujay’s Kuje Medium Security Custodial Centre, which was being guarded by dozens of soldiers, Department of State operatives, police officers and Nigerian security and civil defence corps personnel.
During the attack which began around 10.22pm on Tuesday, the attackers released 600 inmates, including 15 Boko Haram commanders who had masterminded the March 28 attack on the Kaduna-Abuja train in which eight persons were killed and 68 passengers kidnapped.
Over 300 escapees have either been recaptured or turned themselves in at police stations, authorities said.
Nigeria’s Ministry of Interior said explosions and gunfire were heard at about 10pm in the Kuje area when the attackers arrived and forced their way in to the prison through a hole created by the blasts.
According to local media in Nigeria, the Islamic State West Africa Province claimed responsibility for the attack in a 30-second video, which showed the gunmen setting ablaze parked vehicles in the facility.
Nigeria Correctional Service, Umar Abubakar, confirmed that an NSCDC officer, Inspector Illyasu Abraham, three terrorists and four inmates had died in the incident.
The attack came barely hours after a convoy of cars carrying an advance team of security guards, protocol and media officers ahead of President Muhammadu Buhari’s trip to Daura for Sallah, came under a terrorist attack.
Punch reported that the gunmen operated for about two hours without response from security agencies.