More than 1,800 inmates of a prison in southern Nigeria have fled after heavily armed men attacked the facility in the early hours of the morning, prison authorities said Monday.
The attackers used explosives to get into Owerri Prison in Imo state before starting a firefight with prison guards, the national correctional agency said in a statement.
At the same time, other government buildings in the city of Owerri were also attacked.
No group has yet taken responsibility for the attack, but the region is known to be home to a number of separatist organizations.
The Nigerian Police Inspector General blamed the paramilitary wing of one of them, the Eastern Security Network (ESN), for the attack.
The ESN says it is fighting to protect the indigenous Igbo population from foreign armed invaders.
“Act of terrorism”
In a statement, President Muhammadu Buhari described the attack as an “act of terrorism” and called on the security forces to take into custody both the attackers and the inmates who escaped.
The attacks in Owerri come less than two weeks after attacks on four police stations, military checkpoints and prison vehicles in southeastern Nigeria, killing at least a dozen security officers.
The prisons in Nigeria are often overcrowded and the hygiene conditions are often poor.
tj / mm (AFP, AP)