The extremist group 'Islamic State' (IS) says it staged a prison break in northern Iraq in which dozens of inmates were released. Many prisoners and policemen were killed in the operation.
"Islamic State" militants claimed responsibility for a prison break in northern Iraq on Saturday. Iraqi officials confirmed that the IS staged the riot that broke out at the Khalis prison facility near Baquba, about 80 kilometers (50 miles) north of Baghdad.
The Islamic State "was responsible for the killings and the release of IS prisoners," said Oudi Al-Khadran, mayor of the town where the prison is located.
There were conflicting casualty reports about the attack on the prison. Two provincial police officials and a medical official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Associated Press that more than 200 inmates had escaped, while 51 inmates and 12 policemen had been killed.
Violence erupted at the prison facility after inmates managed to seize weapons from wardens, a spokesman from Iraq's Interior Ministry said on Saturday. Police were hunting for the escapees in the nearby area.
Jailbreaks conducted by Islamic State militants are not uncommon in Iraq. The jihadists managed to free hundreds of their fellow militants from Iraqi jails in the past. In July 2013, IS militants freed more than 500 inmates in a carefully orchestrated attack on Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison. The escaped prisoners included senior members of al Qaeda.
das/gsw (Reuters, AP, dpa)