21 killed in shooting at Nigeria State Security HQ

ABUJA, Nigeria — A shootout at Nigeria’s State Security Services headquarters near the presidential villa killed at least 21 people Sunday, a government spokeswoman said of what appears to be an attempted jailbreak by Islamic extremists.

Residents described shooting that went on for more than two hours Sunday morning.

Security services spokeswoman Marilyn Ogar tried to minimize the event, saying it involved one detainee who tried to disarm a guard by hitting him on the back of his head with his handcuffs. Ogar’s statement said the only shots fired were warnings by guards and soldiers who quickly deployed around the perimeter of the compound, fearing collaborators from the outside.

Later Sunday Ogar reported 21 deaths — but did not specify if the fatalities included security agents and soldiers. She said two “service personnel” were seriously injured.

Residents described a shootout that began at about 7 a.m., when detainees are served breakfast, and continued until after 9 a.m.

“Whatever this is, it appears more serious than an attempted jailbreak claimed by the SSS,” said a tweet posted by Nasir El-Rufai, a former Cabinet minister who lives in the neighborhood. He said there were exchanges of gunfire and a helicopter gunship hovering overhead.

“What I witnessed with my eyes and heard this morning was a full-scale battle,” tweeted another former Cabinet minister, Femi Fani-Kayode. He said he lives 50 meters (55 yards) from the state security headquarters and the presidential villa called Aso Rock.

Agents at the scene said a detainee received a smuggled pistol along with his breakfast, and used it to shoot a guard who had unlocked his handcuffs so he could eat. It was unclear if the guard survived. The agents spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to speak to reporters.

Jailbreaks are common in Nigeria, often aided by corrupt officials. But not from the state security headquarters which holds suspects of special interest including alleged fighters in the northeastern Islamic uprising that has killed more than 1,000 people this year.

That insurgency is led by the Boko Haram terrorist network that on March 14 staged a daring jailbreak in an attack on Giwa Barracks, the main military barracks in the northeastern city of Maiduguri. Hundreds of detainees held at the barracks were freed. The military said it killed hundreds of them. Hospital workers said they counted 425 corpses at the morgue, the worst fatalities recorded in the 4-year-old uprising.

More in Local News

‘Come talk to me. Don’t jump, come talk to me’

State Patrol trooper Yaroslav Holodkov just happened to be driving by when he saw a suicidal man.

Marysville educators reach out to a newly traumatized school

Several affected by shootings in 2014 offered to talk with counterparts in Eastern Washington.

Serial killer wannabe admits trying to kill man she met online

She told police she planned to rip out her victim’s heart and eat it — and would continue killing.

Hurry! Target will take your old car seat, but not for long

The seats will be taken apart and the various materials recycled.

Sheriff’s Office receives national recognition

Sheriff accepts award “notable achievements in the field of highway safety” over the past year.

Edmonds-Woodway High School briefly locked down

A student tried to stop a fight and a boy, 16, responded by threatening the student with a knife.

Study considers making it legal to grow marijuana at home

The Liquor and Cannabis Board is considering two scenarios for allowing a minimal number of plants.

Minutes mattered the day Pat Ward was brought back to life

The Mukilteo police and fire chaplain died at breakfast. She got a second chance thanks to a waitress.

Hot weather takes toll on young Christmas trees

The effect is likely to be felt in the years to come when they would have been cut.

Most Read