Abuja, Jul 7 (IANS): At least 300 inmates were on the run while one inmate died and three others were injured during an attack by unidentified gunmen on a prison in Abuja, Nigeria's capital city, a senior official has said.
The attackers stormed the custodial centre in Kuja area, southwest of Abuja on Tuesday night, freeing about 600 inmates but half the number of fleeing inmates have been re-arrested so far, Shuaibu Begore, the permanent secretary of the Ministry of Interior, was quoted as saying by Xinhua news agency.
Begore told reporters during a visit to the facility on Wednesday that one inmate was killed and three others injured during the attack, suspected to be carried out by militants of the extremist group Boko Haram.
A total of 994 inmates, including convicted Boko Haram conspirators and high-profile public officers standing trial or already convicted, were at the facility before the late Tuesday attack, he said.
"We understand they are Boko Haram terrorists and came specifically for their conspirators. Many of them are returned, some were retrieved from the bushes they were hiding. We have retrieved about 300 out of about 600 that got out of the jail," the official said.
All Boko Haram suspects, numbering about 64, were among inmates who escaped, Nigeria's defense minister Bashir Magashi said on Wednesday.
Magashi told reporters during a visit to the facility that although everything is under control now, the Nigerian government believed those responsible for the attack "belong to a particular group".
"Most likely, they are Boko Haram members because we have a sizeable number of Boko Haram suspects in detention, and presently we cannot locate any of them. I think they are about 64 in the prison and none of them is available now, they have all escaped," Magashi said.
According to the defense minister, the attack started with heavy gunfire and explosions, with the attackers gaining entry into the prison and releasing some of the inmates.
In a statement, Abubakar Umar, national spokesman for the Nigeria Correctional Service (NCS), said the attack was successfully repelled by security agencies.
"Calm has been restored to the facility, and the situation is under control," Umar said.