Gunmen attack Nigerian prison, free inmates: official

Gunmen on Friday attacked a prison in Ganye in Nigeria's eastern Adamawa state, setting free inmates and also looting a bank, a senior prison official and police said.

"I can confirm that there was a jailbreak in Ganye by some gunmen this evening. Explosives were used by the attackers to forcefully gain entrance into the prison," Andrew Barka, head of the state prison service, told AFP.

"We still don't know how many inmates were freed or if there were any casualties," he said.

State police spokesman Mohammed Ibrahim confirmed that gunmen attacked the prison, a nearby police station, a tavern and a bank which he said was set on fire after they looted it.

"We have received signals on coordinated attacks by some unknown assailants in Ganye this evening. They launched simultaneous attacks on the prison, the divisional police office, a bank and an open-air tavern," he said.

The gunmen used improvised explosive devices on their targets and fired assault rifles. He said that although details of the attacks were sketchy, troops and policemen have been deployed to the area.

A witness who escaped the attack on the tavern, Barnabas Haruna, said the well-coordinated attacks took place around 7:00 pm (1800 GMT).

"The gunmen chanted Allahu Akbar (God is great) before they launched the attack on the tavern. There were explosions and gunshots. I ducked under a table, crawled and fled the scene," he told AFP.

"I don't know what happened to other people."

A resident said that "the prison, the police station and nearby bank which were some metres away were attacked. Prison officials initially engaged them in a gun duel but the attackers overpowered them."

"They emptied the bank vaults and set it on fire," he said.

It is not known how much money the gunmen looted.

Ganye is located some 100 kilometres (60 miles) from the state capital, Yola.