Photo Credit: AP
Abu Ghraib and Taji Prisons were the stage of a mass prison escape earlier today. Roughly 500 managed to escape the two prisons which are close to the Iraqi capital of Baghdad. The escape occurred when gunmen hit the jails after mortar fire and suicide bombs were used to breach the facilities.
The siege started around 9:30PM last night with mortar fire and was followed by car bombs to breach the entrance. At initial reports, authorities stated that the attackers’ plot had been thwarted by a quick acting security force that sealed off areas and snuffed escape routes. However, once news of the amount of prisoners who escaped hit the news, it was pointed out that such a significant managed to get out.
As it stands, some 20 security officers were killed while trying to hold on to the prisons and keep order. After several hours, military helicopters were brought in to restore control.
Iraqi MP, Hakim Al-Zamili stated that most who escaped where in the upper tier of al-Qaeda and were given death sentences. “It’s obviously a terrorist attack carried out by al-Qaeda to free convicted terrorists with al-Qaeda,” according to a security official speaking to Reuters.
Attacks aren’t a new occurrence on prisons near Baghdad and in these prior assaults many inmates have escaped while evidence and documents were destroyed or even stolen. An example of several assaults having severe damage is the city of Mosul. The attacks have simply damaged the security forces in the area and left 33 people dead in two attacks. The story is the same in other Northern locations.
The United Nations numbers for this month show that 200 people have been killed so far at the start of Ramadan, a Muslim holy month while 2,500 Iraqis have been killed in attacks since April. What it shows the Iraqi citizens, al-Qaeda, and other groups the gap in security for the country—a gap that will continue to be exploited.