Over 500 'Al Qaeda Militants' Escape Iraq's Abu Ghraib Prison
July 22, 2013
A manhunt is underway in Iraq for hundreds of convicts, including senior al
Qaeda terrorists, who broke out of Abu Ghraib prison after a military-style
raid to free them, authorities said on Monday.
Between 500 to 1,000 prisoners have escaped as a result of the attack, "most
of them were convicted senior members of al Qaeda and had received death
sentences," said Hakim Zamili, a senior member of the security and defense
committee in parliament.
Suicide bombers drove cars with explosives into the gates of the prison on
the outskirts of Baghdad on Sunday night, while gunmen attacked guards with
mortar fire as well as rocket propelled grenades.
Other militants held the main road, fighting off security reinforcements
sent from Baghdad, as several insurgents wearing suicide vests entered Abu
Ghraib on foot to help free the inmates.
Ten policemen and four militants were killed in the fighting, which
continued until early Monday, when military helicopters arrived to help
By that time, hundreds of inmates had succeeded in fleeing Abu Ghraib. The
security forces arrested some of them, the rest are still free, Zamili
It's obviously a terrorist attack carried out by al Qaeda to free convicted
terrorists with al Qaeda," another security official told Reuters on
condition of anonymity.
Jihadist accounts on Twitter claimed that not 500, but thousands of
prisoners had escaped from the detention facility. A number of users also
posted similar claims on the Honein jihadist forum, AFP news agency reports.
The Abu Ghraib capable of holding around 15,000 inmates has become notorious
a decade ago after photographs showing abuse of prisoners by US soldiers
were made available to the public.
A simultaneous attack on another prison, in Taji, to the north of Baghdad,
had a similar scheme, but guards prevented a break-out. 16 soldiers and six
militants were killed there.
The attacks on the tow prisons came a year after Al-Qaeda's Iraqi front
group announced that it would be targeting the country's justice system.
"The first priority in this is releasing Muslim prisoners everywhere, and
chasing and eliminating judges and investigators and their guards," said an
audio message attributed to the group's leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in July
Sunni rebels, including al Qaeda-affiliated, have been gaining strength and
regularly striking Shiite Muslims and security forces. The violence has
increased fears of a return to conflict in a country.
In the city of Mosul to the north of Baghdad, a suicide bomber detonated a
vehicle with explosives behind a military convoy, killing at least 22
soldiers and three passers-by, police reported.
Recent attacks have targeted mosques, football matches, shopping areas and
cafes where people meet after breaking the daily fast for the holy month of
Nearly 600 people have been killed in militant attacks across Iraq so far
this month, according to the monitoring group Iraq Body Count.
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