ABUJA, Nigeria – Islamic State on Wednesday claimed responsibility for a raid on a Nigerian prison in the capital Abuja that released about 440 inmates.
Shuaib Belgore, permanent secretary of the interior ministry, told reporters outside the Abuja prison – which has 900 inmates – that a security guard was killed Tuesday night in the raid and three others were injured. He said suspected Boko Haram attackers came for members held in prison.
Download the NBC News App for the latest news and politics
“They came especially for their co-conspirators, but to get them… some of them are in the general (prison) population, so they broke out and other people in that population also escaped, but many of them have returned.” ‘ said Belgore.
A total of 879 inmates have fled, the prison service said in a statement, with 443 still at large and the rest recaptured. Four inmates were killed and sixteen others were injured.
“They reported to the police, some we have successfully recovered from the bushes where they were hiding,” Belgore said.
The raid highlights Nigeria’s security challenges, which are spreading from northern regions where armed insurgents and gangs are rife.
Outside the jail, the charred wreckage of several vehicles with bullet holes was seen Wednesday morning, suggesting nearby gun battles during the raid.
A helicopter hovered overhead as armed security officials brought in a shirtless inmate who was limping with a gaping wound to his leg, while another injured inmate was carried into the prison.
President Muhammadu Buhari, on his way to his hometown of Daura to prepare for the Islamic Eid al-Adha holiday, visited the prison. He questioned the prison’s intelligence system and demanded a report on the attack.
In a separate attack on Wednesday, Buhari’s convoy carrying a forward team of guards, protocol and media officers was ambushed as it headed for the president’s hometown in northern Katsina state. Buhari was not in the convoy.
“The attackers opened fire on the convoy from ambush positions but were repelled by the military, police and security personnel accompanying the convoy,” a presidential spokesman said in a statement.