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Unsuccessful Baghdad prison break had inside help

 People inspect damage after a mortar landed in Baghdad's central Tahrir Square, Iraq, Sunday, May 15, 2011. Two mortar rounds slammed into the street...
 People inspect damage after a mortar landed in Baghdad's central Tahrir Square, Iraq, Sunday, May 15, 2011. Two mortar rounds slammed into the street...

Mideast Iraq Violence

People inspect damage after a mortar landed in Baghdad's central Tahrir Square, Iraq, Sunday, May 15, 2011. Two mortar rounds slammed into the street...

Mideast Iraq Violence

People inspect damage after a mortar landed in Baghdad's central Tahrir Square, Iraq, Sunday, May 15, 2011. Two mortar rounds slammed into the street...

Iraq's interior ministry said Tuesday its investigation has concluded that al-Qaida-linked insurgents had inside help earlier this month in attempting to escape from a Baghdad prison. The assault left 17 people dead.
The outcome of the ministry's probe casts more doubt on whether Iraqi security forces are ready to protect the nation on their own as U.S. troops prepare to leave by the end of this year.
The May 7 jailbreak involved a group of al-Qaida-linked prisoners who tried to overpower their guards and break out of a prison on the ministry's compound. Six police officers, including a top counterterrorism general, and 11 detainees were killed in the hours-long fight that lasted into the early morning.
The aim was to free about 200 al-Qaida in Iraq operatives, including those who were accused of masterminding last year's bloody church siege that killed dozens, the statement said.
The ministry said some security personnel assisted in the jailbreak attempt by "slipping some tools and materials," to the detainees. It gave no other details about what exactly was slipped in. It also blamed the negligence of some security personnel at the ministry's compound where high-profile insurgents are held.
The botched prison break started when a policeman was badly beaten and overpowered by two inmates as he was leading them to the bathroom, the statement said. Earlier, Iraqi officials had said the melee began when a detainee pulled a gun from one of the security officials and shot him. The discrepancy could not immediately be explained.
Then, the ministry statement said, the attackers headed to the office of the counter-terror chief, Brig. Gen. Muaeid Mohammed Saleh, and shot him dead when he opened the door.
"They continued firing on each officer who came out of his office," it added.
Some prisoners found keys to a vehicle and tried to flee, but the guards opened fire on them, killing one and forcing the others back to the building, the statement said.
An interior ministry official familiar with the investigation said the insurgents had managed to smuggle in two handguns and explosive material into the building. He said some prisoners killed themselves with the smuggled explosives. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media about the escape attempt.
The ministry statement also said some prisoners killed themselves, but gave no details on how they died or how many of them committed suicide.
On May 12, the Islamic State of Iraq, a front group for al-Qaida in Iraq, boasted in an Internet posting that the jailbreak attempt took weeks to prepare.
The ministry praised the behavior of most of their employees, saying that despite the "poor performance" of some of its staff, the rest were able to fend off a vigorous al-Qaida in Iraq attack.
But the event was widely considered an embarrassment for Iraq's security forces and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, and has led to demands for an investigation by many Iraqi officials.
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Associated Press writer Qassim Abdul-Zahra in Baghdad and Sameer N. Yacoub in Amman, Jordan, contributed to this report.


Updated : 2021-08-02 00:54 GMT+08:00