Gunmen, yesterday, launched an attack on the headquarters of the Special Anti Robbery Squad, SARS, Abuja believed to be holding suspected Islamist extremists, killing two officers and leading to the escape of 30 detainees.
Police authorities, however, claimed to have re-arrested 25 of the 30 escapees and said no one being held on “terror-related charges” was freed.
The attack on the Special Anti-Robbery Squad compound in the pre-dawn hours resulted in a gun battle, with police claiming to have repelled the assailants and arrested two of them.
It was not immediately clear who was behind the attack. The raid was similar to others carried out by Islamist extremist group, Boko Haram.
However, a statement signed by Force Spokesman, CSP Frank Mba reads: “In the early hours of today, November 26, 2012, at about 2am, unknown gunmen in large numbers attacked the premises of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) of the Federal Territory Police Command.
Policemen on duty responded swiftly and engaged the gunmen in a gun battle that lasted for some minutes, at the end of which the gunmen were successfully repelled.
“However, in the confusion that ensued, about 30 suspects in the detention facilities of SARS broke out of the cells and attempted to escape. Tactical and coordinated efforts to re-arrest the fleeing suspects yielded instant result.
So far, 25 of the suspects have been re-arrested, while five suspects originally being held in relation to robbery related offences are currently at large. Two Policemen died during the operation while two of the attackers have been arrested.
“It needs to be emphasized here that no suspect held for terror related charges, escaped from SARS detention facilities. No explosive or IED-related materials were used in the botched attack”.
Meanwhile, the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Abubakar, has personally visited the scene of the incident to assess the situation. He has equally ordered a high-powered investigative panel headed by a Senior Police Officer to investigate the circumstances surrounding the incident.
Members of Boko Haram have carried out scores of attacks in northern and centralNigeria, including police stations and sometimes with the intent of freeing jailed members.
A visit to the scene, revealed that the main gate outside the police unit was heavily guarded. There were two armoured vehicles, six police trucks and more than a dozen armed policemen.
It was not immediately possible to determine whether the complex had suffered damage.
On Friday, the military offered hundreds of thousands of dollars in reward for information leading to the capture of leaders of Boko Haram in a statement that listed 19 alleged senior members of the group.
The rewards ranged from N50 million ($317,000, 245,000 euros) for the suspected leader, Abubakar Shekau, to N10 million for various Boko Haram “commanders”.