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Hundreds of Inmates Escape in Nigeria Prison Break

Gunmen helped more than 200 inmates escape from a Nigerian prison overnight, the third massive jailbreak in the West African country since early November.

It remains unclear who orchestrated the attack on the medium-security facility in the central state of Niger. Last week, at least 300 prisoners escaped in the southwest state of Ikiti, and a November plot liberated another 144 at a facility in the south-central state of Kogi.

Extremist group Boko Haram is suspected in previous raids to free inmates.

In February, rights organizations told VOA that conditions in the country's prison's were appalling and a "national problem," plagued by overcrowding and physical violence.

According to the Nigeria Prisons Service website, as of June 30, 68 percent the country's approximately 57,000 inmates are awaiting trial.

For a country with a population of 173 million, the incarceration rate is low, 32 inmates per 100,000 inhabitants, compared to prisons in the Americas, Asia and Europe.

The United States has the world’s highest prison rate with 716 prisoners per 100,000 citizens.

Some information for this report came from AP and Reuters.