Hundreds escape in deadly prison raids

BAGHDAD (AP) — Iraqi officials now say hundreds of inmates escaped after insurgents launched coordinated assaults on two high-security prisons last night.

The officials say the attacks sparked gun battles that killed dozens of people.

The targets were two prisons that are home to thousands of prisoners including convicted al-Qaida militants. Both were previously operated by the U.S. military. One of them is the Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad’s western suburbs, where the treatment of prisoners by U.S. guards helped fuel anti-American sentiment in Iraq.

Two Iraqi lawmakers say about 500 prisoners escaped and that a manhunt is under way. But one of the lawmakers says many of the escapees have been captured or killed.

In a separate incident today, officials say a suicide bomber rammed a car packed with explosives into an army patrol in northern Iraq, killing at least 13 people.

A surge of violence has killed more than 290 Iraqis since the start of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan on July 10.

%@AP Links

APPHOTO BAG104: FILE – In this Feb. 21, 2009 file photo, guards stand at a cell block at the renovated Abu Ghraib prison, now renamed Baghdad Central Prison and run by Iraqis in Baghdad, Iraq. Late-night jailbreak attempts at two major prisons outside Baghdad have killed dozens, including at least 25 members of Iraq’s security forces who battled militants armed with car bombs, mortars and machine guns, officials said Monday. (AP Photo/Karim Kadim, File) (21 Feb 2009)

<<APPHOTO BAG104 (02/21/09)££

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