Some 240 prisoners have escaped after unidentified gunmen attacked a facility in Nigeria’s Kogi state, officials say.
It is the second mass jailbreak this year in Nigeria, which is struggling with multiple security crises.
The attackers blew up the prison’s perimeter fence to gain entry, according to the Reuters news agency.
Nigeria’s prison service says the gunmen were heavily armed and fought a fierce gun battle with the guards.
Eyewitnesses told local media that two security officers were killed at the Security Custodial Centre in Kabba but this has not been officially confirmed.
Investigations are under way to find the escaped prisoners and the gunmen who freed them, the authorities say.
A total of 294 prisoners were housed at the medium-security prison, which is located on the main road connecting the cities of Kabba and Lokoja. The majority of them were in pre-trial detention.
In recent years Islamist militant group Boko Haram has raided prisons to free inmates on several occasions.
Many of the inmates in Kabba are suspected Boko Haram fighters, but the authorities say it is not yet known who was behind Sunday’s jailbreak.
Kogi government speaks
We can confirm that some gunmen attacked the Kabba Custodial Centre but investigations are still on to clearly ascertain the number of inmates that escaped from the Centre. We also lost two security operatives. That is the number we have at the moment.
The State Security Adviser, Commander Jerry Omodara (rtd) is currently at the Centre with the Kogi State Commissioner of Police and the Commander, Army Records, Lokoja.
Security Agencies have zeroed in to ensure those who escaped are rearrested as well as trail the masterminds of the attack.
We have confidence in our security agencies to unmask the masterminds responsible for the attack and get them apprehended.
Our security network has led to the rearrest of majority of the inmates that escaped as some have also come back to the centre on their own.
Security agencies, traditional rulers and local hunters are working in synergy to ensure normalcy.
We urge Kogi citizens and citizens of neighbouring states to help volunteer information that will ensure the apprehension of the masterminds of the dastardly act.
Our people should go about their normal businesses as security agencies are doing their best to ensure security of lives and property in the face of the unfortunate breach.
Kogi State Commissioner for Information and Communications