A search is currently underway for hundreds of Iraqi convicts who escaped Abu Ghraib prison after a military-style raid freed them Sunday. Among the escapees were Al-Qaeda terrorists.
The invasions were allegedly carried out after months of preparation between the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, a merger between Al-Qaeda’s groups in Syria and Iraq.
Suicide bombers drove cars with explosives into the gates, while gunmen attacked guards with mortar fire and rocket propelled grenades. Other men guarded the main road and fought off security reinforcements from Baghdad.
Ten policemen and four militants were killed by the fighting, which continued on into Monday morning, when military helicopters finally arrived to help regain control.
By that time, an estimated 500 to 1,000 prisoners had already escaped, many of who had received the death penalty.
A simultaneous attack was taken out on a prison in Taji, just north of Baghdad, though guard’s prevented a breakout.
The attack occurred just one year after Al-Qaeda promised to target the state’s justice system.
“The first priority in this is releasing Muslim prisoners everywhere,” Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the group’s leader, said, “and chasing and eliminating judges and investigators and their guards.”
Though there are widespread claims that the group who helped prisoners escape is affiliated with Al-Qaeda, there is no sure way of verifying that information. Since the U.S. withdrew from Iraq, head of the International Action Center Sara Flounders noted, little information about Abu Ghraib could be obtained.