More than 1,800 inmates have escaped from a prison in Nigeria after it was attacked by gunmen, the BBC is reporting.
The attackers reportedly used explosives to blast their way into the prison in the south-eastern town of Owerri in Imo state.
A police spokesman said heavily armed men stormed the Owerri Custodial Centre in the early hours of Monday, after arriving in pickup trucks and buses.
They were carrying rocket-propelled grenades, machine guns, explosives and rifles.
The Nigerian Correctional Service has confirmed that 1,844 inmates escaped from the jail.
Prison officials have reported that 35 inmates refused to escape, and six who did abscond have now voluntarily returned.
Police have accused the banned separatist group, the Indigenous People of Biafra, of carrying out the attack but they have reportedly denied involvement.
President Muhammadu Buhari called the attack an “act of terrorism” carried out by “anarchists”. He called upon security forces to capture the attackers and the remaining escaped prisoners.
A spokesman for the Indigenous People of Biafra separatist movement said that accusations it was behind Monday’s attack were “lies”.
Imo state has long been a breeding ground for separatist groups, while relations between the central government and indigenous Igbo population are strained.
Since January, several police stations across south-eastern Nigeria have been attacked and substantial amounts of ammunition stolen.
No-one has claimed responsibility for the attacks.