Nigeria: Heavily armed men release detainees in attack on prison

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Gunmen attacked a prison in southwest Nigeria, freeing around 575 inmates, officials said.

The third prison break in Africa’s most populous country this year raises more concerns about the safety of detention centers in the West African country where authorities have struggled to stem the rise of violence.

A handful of security facilities, especially police stations, have come under similar attack over the past year.

“Armed men who came in large numbers” attacked the Abonlogo prison center with grenades on Friday evening, said Olanrewaju Anjorin, spokesperson for the Oyo State Prison Administration.

“Many detainees were arrested again after the attack, and it is still ongoing,” he said, without specifying how many prisoners had escaped, nor confirming whether there had been any casualties.

He said police would soon issue a statement with more details about the attack.

Africa’s most populous country is grappling with widespread insecurity, with large swathes of its territory under the control of criminal groups.

About 240 prisoners escaped on September 13 in an attack on another prison in Kogi State, central Nigeria.

While in April, more than 1,800 inmates escaped in an attack on another prison in the southeast.

Most recent jailbreaks appear to be unrelated although the attacks are carried out in a similar fashion with the use of explosives.

Authorities have succeeded in re-arresting some escaped detainees, sometimes in neighboring states, while others are returning voluntarily.

Nigerian prisons hold 70,000 inmates, but only about 20,000, or 27%, have been sentenced, according to government data.

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