YENAGOA, Nigeria (WBHnews) – Greater 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 stated.
Nigerian police stated it believed a banned separatist group, the Indigenous Folks 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 stated 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 economic system, was an “act of terrorism”. He ordered safety forces to apprehend the fleeing prisoners.
The attackers stormed the power at round 2:15 a.m. (0115 GMT) on Monday, in line with the Nigerian Correctional Service stated.
“The Owerri Custodial Centre in Imo state has been attacked by unknown gunmen and forcefully launched a complete of 1,844 inmates in custody,” its spokesman stated in an announcement late on Monday.
The police stated 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 Folks of Biafra (IPOB),” stated Frank Mba, a spokesman for the Nigeria Police Drive.
IPOB needs independence for a area in southeast Nigeria it calls Biafra. A million individuals died in a 1967-70 civil struggle between the Nigerian authorities and secessionists there.
In current months safety within the area has deteriorated. A number of police stations have been attacked since January, with giant quantities of ammunition stolen and stories of the IPOB’s paramilitary wing, the Japanese Safety Community (ESN), clashing with the army.
However an IPOB spokesman instructed WBHnews the group didn’t perform the jail raid.
“IPOB and ESN weren’t concerned within the assault in Owerri, Imo state. It isn’t our mandate to assault safety personnel or jail services,” the IPOB spokesman stated in a telephone name.
Reporting by Tife Owolabi in Yenagoa and Anamesere Igboeroteonwu in Onitsha; Extra reporting by Camillus Eboh in Abuja; Writing by Tom Hogue and Alexis Akwagyiram; Modifying by Raissa Kasolowsky