More than 1,800 prisoners have escaped from prison after a Nigerian prison was attacked by gunmen, officials say.
Attackers reportedly used explosives to blow up administrative divisions into the prison yard of the southeastern town of Owerri.
Six prisoners reportedly returned, but 35 refused to flee.
Police accused the indigenous people of Biafra, a banned separatist group, from attacking. It has reportedly denied involvement.
The Nigerian Correctional Bureau confirmed that 1,844 prisoners had escaped from prisons in Imo.
According to the service, a heavily armed man raided the Owerri Administration Center early Monday after arriving at a pickup truck or bus.
A police spokesperson said the attacker had rocket-propelled grenades, machine guns, explosives, and rifles.
President Muhammadu Buhari called the attack a “terrorist act” carried out by an “anarchist.” He called on security forces to catch the attackers and the fleeing prisoners.
A spokesman for the Biafra separatist movement’s indigenous movement told AFP news agency that the accusations behind the attack on Monday were “lie.”
Although Imo has long been a breeding ground for separatist groups, the relationship between the central government and the indigenous Igbos is tense.
Since January, several police stations and vehicles in southeastern Nigeria have been attacked and large amounts of ammunition stolen. No one claims responsibility for the attack.