Monday, July 22, 2013

Over 500 'Al Qaeda Militants' Escape Iraq's Abu Ghraib Prison


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

regain control.


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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