2nd LD Writethru: 240 inmates escape in gunmen attack on prison in central Nigeria: official

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ABUJA, Sept. 13 (Xinhua) -- The Nigerian government on Monday said a manhunt has been launched for at least 240 inmates who escaped after unidentified gunmen attacked a custodial center in central Nigeria's Kogi state on Sunday.

Francis Enobore, spokesperson for the Nigeria Correction Service (NCoS), said in a statement the attackers broke into the custodial center in Kabba town of Kogi state on Sunday night after a fierce gun battle with the guards, and forcefully released about 240 inmates.

Enobore said the NCoS has activated a recapture procedure and appealed to local people to "furnish security operatives with useful intelligence that will assist in recapturing the escapees."

As of the time of the attack, 294 inmates were in custody out of which 224 were pre-trial detainees and 70 convicted inmates, he said.

Minister of Interior Rauf Aregbesola said in a separate statement on Monday the gunmen who attacked the facility used explosives to destroy three sides of the perimeter fence, allowing the inmates to escape.

"We shall leave no stone unturned to bring them back to custody. We are also putting INTERPOL (International Criminal Police Organization) on notice with their details, in case any of them attempts to flee outside our shores," Aregbesola said, noting that escaping from lawful custody is a serious criminal offense.

Aregbesola said local law enforcement agencies have been lawfully empowered to use all necessary means to arrest and bring the fleeing inmates to justice, adding that some escapees had voluntarily returned to the facility as of Monday morning.

He said a soldier and a policeman were killed by the gunmen, while two personnel of the NCoS are still missing following the attack.

The latest jailbreak comes about five months after gunmen attacked in early April a custodial center and the police headquarters in the southern state of Imo, freeing more than 1,800 inmates and setting the facilities ablaze. Enditem

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