Gunmen free 200 in Nigeria prison break

Jail emptied

Attackers stormed a federal prison in Nigeria with heavy gunfire and explosives, killing one guard and freeing about 200 inmates in a new assault demonstrating the continued instability in the nation, an official said on Thursday.

The attack on the prison happened at Koton-Karifi, a town in Kogi state just south of Nigeria’s central capital Abuja. The gunmen attacked just after 7 pm on Wednesday, fighting through the prison gate and killing one guard in the process, said Nigeria Prisons Service spokesman Kayode Odeyemi.

Those inside the prison escaped in the fighting, with 118 inmates known to be missing Thursday afternoon, Odeyemi said. However, local prison official Hadijha Aminu said that guards still hadn’t completed a head count and didn’t know how many prisoners actually were inside the prison at the time of the attack.

The government said that an investigation into the attack had begun.

“One does not really know why” the gunmen attacked, Odeyemi said. “It might be that some of the armed robbers are trying to free the armed robbers there awaiting trial.”
The prison held armed robbers and kidnappers, Odeyemi said. He said he did not know if the prison held any members of a radical Islamist sect known as Boko Haram, which has been plaguing the country with violence over the last year.

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