Heavy gunfire exchanges erupted around the vicinity of the Aso Rock Presidential Villa and the headquarters of the Department of State Services in the Asokoro District of Abuja in the early hours o Sunday as suspected Boko Haram insurgents attempted to free some of their members detained in the SSS cell, according to security sources and residents of the area.
Yellow House, the expansive headquarters of the State Security Service, is located almost adjacent one of the remote gates of the presidential villa and residents of the nearby Aso Drive Area said the gunshots were either coming out of the SSS headquarters or the presidential villa.
“Heavy gunfire has been coming from the direction of the villa. The entire area has been barricaded. SSS operatives are scampering out of their headquarters as the gunshots get louder.
“Soldiers are now heading in the direction of the SSS headquarters with Armoured Personnel Carriers. Those of us living around here have been asked to stay indoors and not venture out,” according to one of our sources in a text message sent to our correspondent.
Though the Special Adviser to the President on media and publicity, Reuben Abati was not immediately available, Marilyn Ogar, SSS spokesperson said the gunshots were triggered by attempted jailbreak at the Service’s headquarters by suspected members of the extremist Boko Haram sect.
“What happened was that the suspects handlers went to feed the detainees here but suddenly they attacked him with their handcuffs, disarmed him and started shooting.
“The military was quickly called in before they could do any harm and that is responsible for the shootings you heard. It was an attempted jailbreak but it has been brought under control,” Ogar said in a response to our correspondent’s inquiry.
Sources however expressed worries about how detainees, held in the highly fortified complex, got guns with which they shot at soldiers and SSS operatives for over an hour.
As at the time of filing this report, military helicopters have been deployed but there are no reports about the numbers of casualties, if any.