A large group of Iraqi detainees stand behind razor wire at the Abu Ghraib prison outside Baghdad in 2004.
Hundreds of inmates are still free in Iraq after they escaped from two jails, including the infamous Abu Ghraib, following a series of military-style attacks that left at least 20 dead. A senior Iraqi official says that many of the 500 prisoners who escaped from Abu Ghraib were senior members of al-Qaida and had been sentenced to death. Security forces were able to arrest only some of the detainees who were freed.
“It’s obviously a terrorist attack carried out by al-Qaida to free convicted terrorists with al-Qaida,” an unnamed security official told Reuters.
Fighting raged for several hours after the jails - Abu Ghraib to the west of the capital and Taji to the north - came under attack.
Mortar fire and suicide bombs were used to gain access to the jails, whose inmates include al-Qaeda prisoners.
...The situation was eventually brought back under control on Monday morning, with the use of military helicopters.
Iraqi authorities initially denied any prisoners had escaped in the attacks, but now acknowledge “some” prisoners escaped.
Interior Minister Wissam al-Firaiji said the attackers, whom he called “terrorists,” had been well-armed.