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Gunmen free 119 in Nigeria jailbreak

Gunmen from the radical Boko Haram sect have stormed a federal jail in the central Nigerian town of Koton-Karifi, freeing 119 inmates and killing a guard during the attack, prison officials said Wednesday.

Nigeria prison jailbreak 2012 02 16Enlarge
Most of the prisoners who escaped were armed robbers and kidnappers awaiting trial. (PIUS UTOMI EKPEI/AFP/Getty Images)

Gunmen have stormed a federal jail in central Nigeria, freeing 119 inmates and killing a prison officer during the attack, prison officials said Wednesday.

A police officer and an eyewitness told Nigeria’s Daily Trust newspaper that around 20 armed men on motorbikes broke into the jail in Kogi state at around 19:00 local time (11:00 EST), blowing up the prison gate with explosives and firing sporadically at guards, killing one, the BBC reported.

None of the prisoners at the Koton-Karifi facility, just south of Nigeria’s capital Abuja, were high-profile detainees. Most were armed robbers and kidnappers awaiting trial, officials said.

The government has begun an investigation into the attack, according to the Associated Press.

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Radical Islamist sect Boko Haram later said it had carried out the attack, freeing seven of its members. The group orchestrated a massive jailbreak in northern Bauchi state in 2010 in which about 700 prisoners were freed, Reuters reported.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the assault marks the first significant attack carried out by Boko Haram in Nigeria’s mainly Christian south.

The group wants to enforce Sharia law across the country, and has killed hundreds in bomb and gun attacks in northern Nigeria. 

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/africa/nigeria/120216/gunmen-free-119-nigeria-jailbreak