Over 400 prisoners are missing following an attack by gunmen on Kuje Correctional Center in Nigeria’s capital Abuja, officials say.
Four inmates, a security guard and several attackers were killed after the prison was targeted on Tuesday night, according to officials.
Islamist militant group Boko Haram is suspected of carrying out the attack, and dozens of its members are on the run, the defence minister said.
Over 5,000 inmates have escaped in jailbreaks in Nigeria since 2020.
Loud explosions and gunfire were heard near the Kuje medium-security prison, just outside the capital, on Tuesday night when the attack happened.
“We heard shooting on my street. We thought it was armed robbers,” a local resident told AFP news agency. “The first explosion came after the shooting. Then a second one sounded and then a third.”
As well as the four inmates killed, 16 others were also injured during the attack, Nigeria’s correctional service said.
A number of high-profile detainees, including suspected militants and jailed politicians, were in the facility at the time of the attack. But the correctional service said jailed senior officials were not among those who had escaped.
Almost 1,000 inmates were in the facility when the attack took place, according to officials. Almost all of them initially escaped but 443 have since been recaptured.
Defence Minister Bashir Magashi told reporters that Boko Haram militants had “mostly likely” carried out the attack and that 64 jailed jihadists had escaped from the prison.
“None of them are inside the prison, they have all escaped,” he said.
This latest attack in the capital has been described by many in Nigeria as another indication of the country’s worsening insecurity.