Abuja – Gunmen used explosives to blast into a prison near Nigeria’s capital late on Tuesday, freeing hundreds of inmates but prison authorities said they had recaptured most of those who escaped.
Residents in the area reported hearing loud explosions and gunfire late Tuesday near the Kuje Medium Security Custodial Centre, on the outskirts of Abuja, and security forces had cordoned off the area early Wednesday.
One security official was killed when the gunmen breached the jail using explosives, correctional services spokesman Abubakar Umar said.
“Some of the men in custody escaped. We were able to recapture many of them this morning. More than 300 escaped, but we have recaptured close to 300,” he told AFP.
He said prison officials were still determining how many were still missing.
Former top police commander Abba Kyari, who was being held in Kuje awaiting trial on drug smuggling charges, was still in custody, he said.
“We heard shooting on my street. We thought it was armed robbers,” one local resident said. “The first explosion came after the shooting. Then a second one sounded and then a third.”
It was unclear who carried out the attack but Nigeria’s security forces are fighting jihadists, heavily armed criminal gangs and separatist militias in different parts of the country.
Attacks on prisons in Nigeria have happened in the past, with gunmen seeking to free inmates.
More than 1 800 prisoners escaped last year after heavily armed men attacked a prison in southwest Nigeria using explosives.
The attackers blasted their way into the Owerri prison in Imo state, engaging guards in a gun battle before storming the prison.
Imo state is part of a region that is a hotbed for separatist groups seeking an independent state for the indigenous Igbo population.