Hundreds of prisoners out in the open as official defections

nigeria jailbreak
Broken walls are seen at Kuje Prison in Abuja, Nigeria, after a rebel attack that allowed nearly 600 prisoners to escape, July 6, 2022. Officials said around 300 were recaptured.

Chinedu Asadu/AP

Abuja, Nigeria – At least 600 prisoners escaped in a brazen jailbreak in Nigeria’s capital city, officials accused of assault on Wednesday said Islamic extremist rebel, About 300 prisoners have been recaptured, officials said.

According to Shuaib Belgor, Permanent Secretary of Nigeria’s Interior Ministry, “very determined” rebels attacked the Kuje Medium Security Prison in Abuja on Tuesday night with “very high-grade explosives”, killing one of the guards.

Explosions and gunshots were heard in the Kuje area of ​​Abuja at around 10 p.m. when the attackers arrived and entered the prison through the holes created by the explosives.

Islamic extremist insurgents who attacked the prison have waged An insurgency in the country’s northeast for over a decade. Prison officials said his attack on the detention facility freed many of his members, who are prisoners.

Security officers inspect objects suspected of being explosives outside the Medium Security Prison in Kujek
Security officers inspect objects suspected of containing explosives outside a medium-security prison in Kuje, near Abuja, Nigeria, on July 6, 2022.

Afolabi Sotunde / Reuters

“We understand they are Boko Haram. They came specifically for their co-conspirators,” Belgor said. “Right now, we’ve retrieved about 300 out of about 600 released from prison.”

Nigeria’s jihadist rebels have carried out several jailbreaks in the country’s northeast in recent years, but this is the first in the capital.

Prisons in Africa’s most populous country are often overcrowded. At least 70% of prisoners are on remand and could be held for years awaiting trial. One even bigger jailbreak It was done in the southeastern state of Imo in April last year. It was unclear which group carried out that exodus, but the area has long been a hot spot for Nigerian separatist groups, and tensions between federal officials and the indigenous Igbo population are often high.

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Nigeria’s northern-based extremist insurgency by a branch known as Boko Haram and the Islamic State Central African Province has been blamed for the violence that has killed more than 35,000 people and killed 2 million, according to the United Nations. More people have been displaced.

The United Nations says the lack of health services due to prolonged instability, hunger and insurgency has indirectly caused more than 300,000 deaths.

Extremist violence is the most serious security challenge in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country with 206 million people, which is also grappling with violence in the northwest region by rebel herders and a separatist movement in the country’s south.

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