A reported 15 to 20 prisoners being held in Iraq were killed by guards on Wednesday after a firefight broke out when two inmates grabbed rifles from their guards and shot at them.
One guard whose Kalashnikov weapon was taken from him was shot and killed, while a second guard whose weapon had been taken as well was wounded but not killed.
The number of prisoners killed in the incident, on the other hand, remains unclear, ranging from 15 to 20, according to eyewitnesses and reports by Reuters.
Prisons in Iraq have been at the heart of ongoing controversy, with practices of torture on the part of both American and Iraqi soldiers of prisoners surfacing regularly.
Some 14,000 prisoners are currently being held in Iraq by the US military, which has refrained from handing them over to Iraqi custody until proper conditions can be ensured.
Several US troops were found guilty of prisoner abuse in the Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad last year, while dozens of abused Sunni Arab suspects were recently discovered by US soldiers in a secret bunker run by Iraq's Interior Ministry.
On Tuesday, Kurdish and Shi'ite leaders who won a majority of votes in Iraq's recent election, agreed to promote the inclusion of Sunni and other parties into a future coalition government.
Sunni and secular groups have protested the elections and called for a rerun, saying that the outcome had been rigged.
In Baghdad on Tuesday, several thousand supporters of secular former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi marched to protest election results. Other similar protests have erupted throughout the country since the December 15 elections.
© 2005 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com )