At least one police officer was shot dead and about 30 detainees freed by gunmen who attacked the police holding cell in Abuja on Monday, witnesses and officials say.
A police spokesperson is reported by private television channel, AIT, as saying 25 freed detainees have been re-arrested while five remained at large.
The spokesperson, Frank Mba, did not confirm the number of casualties recorded in the shoot-out that lasted hours, but witnesses say a police Inspector was killed.
Mr. Mba has yet to respond to repeated calls to his telephone lines, and an official police statement has also not been released.
The attackers, believed to be members of the radical sect, Boko Haram, struck early Monday at the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS, headquarters where high profile criminals are held.
The raid lasted hours with a prolonged exchange of gunfire between the police and the attackers.
The police said it repelled the attack and immediately cordoned roads leading to the facility situated within the Abuja city centre.
Coming less than 24 hours after a brazen suicide bomb explosion on a military church in Kaduna State, the attack raised immediate concerns about the capacity of the nation’s security to deal with growing militancy and their alertness to foil assaults on their installations.
Last week, security forces declared the leaders of the Boko Haram sect wanted, placing a bounty on them.
Several key members of the group are said to be held at the SARS office and the Monday attack was an attempt by their colleagues to free them.
A man, who claimed to be a senior member of the sect, told PREMIUM TIMES, on Monday,that “we (the group) have put our house in order and Nigerians have not seen anything yet.”