Suspected al-Qaeda militants break free from Baghdad jail
An Iraqi Muslim Sunni man prays during the weekly Friday noon prayers before an anti-government protest outside the Sunni Umm al-Qura mosque in Baghdad on Friday (Photo: AFP/AHMAD AL-RUBAYE)
The jailbreak occurred just after midnight in the town of Taji, north of Baghdad.
An unnamed military officer told the news agency that the escaped inmates – most of whom were reportedly linked to al-Qaeda’s front group, the Islamic State of Iraq – “escaped from Taji prison after they got hold of the guards’ weapons.”
Jailbreaks in Iraq are relatively common. Over 100 prisoners reportedly escaped from a prison in Tikrit, north of Baghdad, late last September. Inmates also escaped from prisons in the Kurdish province of Dohuk and the northern city of Kirkuk in January and March last year.
While sources agree that all of the inmates who broke out of jail on Friday are Iraqi, the number is disputed. An interior ministry official put the number at 12 while a military source claimed there were 16 escapees.
“It could be there was cooperation from the guards,” the prison officer told AFP.