Nearly 400 still at large after Nigeria jailbreak

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  • 837 inmates escaped from prison in Nigeria.
  • 446 have been recaptured.
  • Prison outbreaks are not uncommon in Nigeria.

Nigerian security forces recaptured 446 inmates who escaped from prison in a mass jailbreak over the weekend with nearly 400 others still at large on Monday, officials said.

Heavily armed men used grenades to storm the Abolongo prison in southwest state Oyo late on Friday, the facility said, in the third mass prison outbreak this year in Africa's most populous nation.

Nigerian Interior Minister Rauf Aregbesola said 446 had been recaptured and 392 were still at large after visiting the prison on Sunday.

He said:

The attack was unconscionable.

"The federal government will pursue not just those who attacked our facility, but those who have escaped lawful custody," he added.

"You can run, but you can't hide," the minister said, adding that plans were underway to release "details" on the inmates in the media.

On Monday, a spokesperson for the prison, Olanrewaju Anjorin told AFP that in total 837 escaped and 446 had been recaptured.

Prison outbreaks are not uncommon in Nigeria, where security forces are often described as overstretched and overwhelmed.

- About 240 prisoners escaped during an attack on another prison on 13 September in Kogi State in central Nigeria.

- On 5 April, more than 1 800 inmates escaped during an attack on yet another prison in Imo state, in the southeast.

- Jihadist group Boko Haram, which launched an insurgency in northeast Nigeria in 2009, has frequently attacked prisons to free inmates.

In addition to fighting jihadists, Nigerian troops are also facing violent criminal gangs across the country and separatist agitation in the southeast.

President Muhammadu Buhari, a retired general, who was first elected in 2015, is under pressure to end the spiralling insecurity in the vast nation of some 210 million inhabitants.

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