Armed militants have attacked a prison in the Iraqi city of Tikrit, on Thursday 09/27/2012. killing at least 12 guards and freeing about 90 inmates, officials said on Friday (see also – Tikrit 03.29.11).

They say a suicide bomber detonated a car bomb at the gates of Tasfirat prison and clashes between militants and security guards followed. Some of the escaped inmates were reportedly Al Qaeda members. The prison was later retaken from the gunmen by security forces, reports say. A curfew is now in place in the area. Tasfirat holds several hundred inmates, some of them condemned to death.

Iraqi security forces have launched a search for dozens of Al Qaeda-linked inmates who escaped during an attack on a prison in the city of Tikrit that left at least 13 policemen dead.

The violence at the prison comes after Al Qaeda’s Iraqi front group announced a campaign to regain territory and said it aimed to help its jailed members escape.

“Security forces were able to detain 33 of the escaped inmates, and there are still about 75 others” at large, Mohammed Hassan Attiya, the head of the Salaheddin provincial council security committee, told the AFP agencies on Friday, adding that “operations to pursue them are continuing.” “All of these inmates are Iraqi and members of the Al-Qaeda organisation,” he said, and most have been sentenced to death” he said.
Ahmed Abdul Jabbar, deputy governor of Salaheddin, told AFP on Friday by telephone that the Tikrit prison had been retaken from fighters who seized it initially on Thursday night, but that 83 prisoners escaped.

Prison breaks are not uncommon in Iraq. Last September, 35 prisoners facing terrorism charges escaped via a sewage pipe from a temporary jail in the northern city of Mosul (see also -Basra 01.14.11). But releasing militants from jails through major incursion from the outside are common in countries where Islamic terror prevails.

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