YENAGOA, Nigeria—More than 1,800 prisoners are on the run in southeast Nigeria after escaping when closely armed gunmen attacked their jail utilizing explosives and rocket-propelled grenades, the authorities mentioned.
Nigerian police mentioned it believed a banned separatist group, the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), was behind the assault within the metropolis of Owerri, however a spokesman for the group denied involvement.
The secessionist motion within the southeast is one among a number of severe safety challenges dealing with President Muhammadu Buhari, together with a decade-long Islamist insurgency within the northeast, a spate of college kidnappings within the northwest and piracy within the Gulf of Guinea.
Buhari mentioned the assault, in a metropolis close to the oil-rich Niger Delta area that’s the mainstay of Africa’s high crude exporter and largest financial system, was an “act of terrorism”. He ordered safety forces to apprehend the fleeing prisoners.
The attackers stormed the ability at round 2:15 a.m. on Monday, in keeping with the Nigerian Correctional Service mentioned.
“The Owerri Custodial Centre in Imo state has been attacked by unknown gunmen and forcefully released a total of 1,844 inmates in custody,” its spokesman mentioned in a press release late on Monday.
The police mentioned attackers used explosives to blast the executive block of the jail and entered the jail yard.
“Preliminary investigations have revealed that the attackers… are members of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB),” mentioned Frank Mba, a spokesman for the Nigeria Police Force.
IPOB desires independence for a area in southeast Nigeria it calls Biafra. One million folks died in a 1967-70 civil warfare between the Nigerian authorities and secessionists there.
In current months safety within the area has deteriorated. Several police stations have been attacked since January, with massive quantities of ammunition stolen and reviews of the IPOB’s paramilitary wing, the Eastern Security Network (ESN), clashing with the army.
But an IPOB spokesman informed Reuters the group didn’t perform the jail raid.
“IPOB and ESN were not involved in the attack in Owerri, Imo state. It is not our mandate to attack security personnel or prison facilities,” the IPOB spokesman mentioned in a telephone name.
By Tife Owolabi