(BAGHDAD) -- In what can be described as a major setback for Iraqi security forces, hundreds of detainees escaped from Abu Ghraib prison following a suicide-bomb attack on the facility late Sunday.
Hakim Zanily, a senior member of the security and defense committee in Iraq parliament, claimed between 500 to 1,000 prisoners got away, and that "most of them were convicted senior members of al Qaeda and had received death sentences."
Witnesses said that bombers first blew themselves up in cars outside the prison gates, and heavily-armed gunmen then attacked with mortars and rocket-propelled grenades. At least 10 police officers and four militants died in the battle that lasted until early Monday.
According to some jihadist websites, thousands of prisoners escaped, although their claims tend to be exaggerated. Abu Ghraib holds 15,000 detainees.
Meanwhile, a simultaneous attack on another prison in Taji did not succeed in freeing detainees, although 16 soldiers were killed along with six militants.
The assaults fulfilled a vow made by al Qaeda in Iraq a year ago to attack the prisons.
It's assumed that at least some of the escaped prisoners who aren't recaptured will rejoin insurgent forces attempting once again to stir up sectarian warfare in Iraq.
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