YENAGOA, Nigeria – More than 1,800 prisoners are on the run in southeast Nigeria after escaping when heavily armed gunmen attacked their prison using explosives and rocket-propelled grenades, the authorities said.
Nigerian police said it believed a banned separatist group, the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), was behind the attack in the city of Owerri, but a spokesman for the group denied involvement.
The secessionist movement in the southeast is one of several serious security challenges facing President Muhammadu Buhari, including a decade-long Islamist insurgency in the northeast, a spate of school kidnappings in the northwest and piracy in the Gulf of Guinea.
Buhari said the attack, in a city near the oil-rich Niger Delta region that is the mainstay of Africa’s top crude exporter and biggest economy, was an “act of terrorism”. He ordered security forces to apprehend the fleeing prisoners.
The attackers stormed the facility at around 2:15 am (0115 GMT) on Monday, according to the Nigerian