The Blame Game

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Nigerian authorities continued their search for the hundreds of inmates who escaped last week following a terrorist attack on a prison near Abuja, a raid that comes months ahead of a highly-anticipated presidential election, the Voice of America reported.

Officials said gunmen armed with explosives blasted open a perimeter fence and the prison walls of the medium-security prison in Kuje on Tuesday, freeing nearly 900 inmates. They added that 436 of the 879 escapees have been captured but the rest remain at large including 64 high-profile Boko Haram suspects.

Islamic State West Africa Province, an Islamic State affiliate, claimed responsibility for the attack, which also killed one guard and injured three others, the Guardian wrote.

President Muhammadu Buhari visited the detention facility a day later and blamed the country’s intelligence service for failing to stop it. But security analysts and critics condemned the president’s comments, noting that he has failed to stop militants after more than seven years in office.

The attack in Kuje underscores the latest security vulnerabilities in Nigeria, where authorities have been stretched thin across the country fighting a 13-year jihadist insurgency in the northeast, as well as “bandit” and terrorist groups in the northwest.

Prison breaks have become more common in Nigeria: Last year, more than 1,800 prisoners escaped from a facility in Imo state, in the southeast, after an attack that included gunfire and explosives.

Meanwhile, Nigeria is planning to hold elections in February 2023.

Observers warned that the upcoming vote “has affected the alertness level of security and intelligence agencies,” as they shift focus to who will replace Buhari, who is not eligible for a third term.

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