Nigeria recaptures 108 inmates after prison outbreak

A Nigerien soldiers walks in front of the the prison of Koutoukale, near Niamey, following an attack on October 17, 2016. Armed forces in Niger repelled a pre-dawn attack on October 17, 2016 on a prison where "terrorists", notably from neighbouring Mali, are being held, the country's interior minister said. The prison in Koutoukale is considered to be Niger's most secure jail, holding the country's most dangerous detainees, and notably jihadists from groups active in the Sahel desert area and from the Nigeria-based Boko Haram Islamist group. The attack follows the kidnapping of a US aid worker on October 14, the first American captured in the west African nation. / AFP / BOUREIMA HAMA (Photo credit should read BOUREIMA HAMA/AFP/Getty Images)

At least 108 out of 240 inmates who escaped from a prison in central Nigeria have been recaptured, a prison official said Tuesday.

Heavily armed gunmen stormed the Security Custodial Centre in Kabba, in Kogi State, late on Sunday, freeing scores of inmates.

It was unclear who the gunmen were but criminal gangs have terrorized central and northwest Nigeria for years.

“We have a total of 108 inmates rearrested,” Nigeria’s correctional service spokesman Francis Enobore said.

“But as the day progresses, the figure will definitely increase,” he added, saying “several processes have been activated to ensure all inmates are rearrested.”

At about 2245 GMT on Sunday, the spokesman had said earlier in a statement, numerous attackers “engaged the armed guards in a fierce gun battle.”

The gunmen invaded the prison, which had 294 prisoners in custody at the time, including 224 pre-trial detainees.

A soldier and a police officer lost their lives in the attack, Enobore later added.

Large prison outbreaks are not uncommon in Nigeria.

On April 5, gunmen raided Owerri police headquarters, in Nigeria’s southern Imo state, freeing more than 1,800 inmates.

In addition to fighting criminal gangs who also kidnap people for ransom and rustle cattle, Nigeria’s security forces are facing a violent jihadist insurgency in the northeast and separatist agitation in the southeast.