A Nigerian soldier and police officer have been killed after militants attacked a medium-security prison in Kogi State, destroying the perimeter fence and allowing nearly all the jail’s inmates to escape.

Late on Sunday night, heavily armed gunmen raided a jail at Kabba, some 270km (168 miles) southwest of the federal capital Abuja. Having blown up the perimeter fence, the militants managed to free some 266 inmates out of the prison’s total population of 294. 

After arriving at the facility, the gunmen blew up the prison fence on three sides and engaged the guards in a gun battle. One police officer and one soldier were killed in the assault, while a further two cops are unaccounted for, authorities said.

The prison service initially suggested that there were 240 fugitives, with the interior ministry later clarifying that only 28 inmates remained at Kabba. 

Nigerian authorities also said that the attackers are yet to be identified, and did not suggest any motive for the raid.Sunday’s jailbreak was the second major attack on a prison in Nigeria this year. In April, gunmen released some 1,800 inmates in an attack on a prison in Owerri.

Police have blamed a banned separatist movement, the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), for that jailbreak. The group is pushing for the independence of Biafra, a south-eastern part of Nigeria which has been split into several states, however Kogi State is not part of that area.

The Kabba jail was holding 224 pre-trial detainees and 70 convicted offenders at the time of the attack, the prison service said. The Interior Ministry said there were 15 soldiers, 10 police officers and 10 armed prison guards on duty when gunmen attacked on Sunday.

Nigeria is no stranger to organized armed violence and raids, many of which are carried out by Islamist militant insurgencies in the north-east of the country who often prey on schools, abducting young women and occasionally boys.

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