BAUCHI, Nigeria – About 800 inmates escaped a federal prison holding Muslim extremists in northern Nigeria during a sunset attack by gunmen who are believed to be members of a radical sect, a police official said Wednesday.
The attackers went cell by cell at the prison in Bauchi, breaking open locks and setting fire to part of the prison before escaping during the confusion, said Bauchi state police commissioner Danlami Yar'Adua. Four people died and six others remain in critical condition.
Yar'Adua said police believe Boko Haram sect followers freed by the attack are hiding in the mountains surrounding the pasturelands of the rural region.
Members of Boko Haram — which means "Western education is sacrilege" in the local Hausa language — rioted and attacked police stations and private homes in July 2009, triggering a violent police crackdown. More than 700 people died. Many of those arrested in the wake of the attacks last were being held at the Bauchi prison pending trial.