Kirkuk jailbreak sees high-value detainees on the loose in Iraq


Iraqi policemen drag a man suspected of being among 19 detainees who escaped from a prison in the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk on March 23, 2012.


Marwan Ibrahim

Iraqi officials today said a jailbreak early today in the city of Kirkuk saw the escape of 19 prisoners, many of whom were being held on terrorism charges, reported Reuters

Prisoners got out by jumping from a stack of blankets in order to reach a ceiling ventilation shaft, Kirkuk Deputy Police Chief Major-General Torhan Abdulrahman Youssef told Reuters.

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Local officials blamed the incident on the prison guards, with one Kirkuk politician telling BBC the incident revealed "very clear negligence."

Among the escaped prisoners are "Al Qaeda and fighters from a Salafist group blamed for attacks on American and Iraqi troops," according to BCC.

Two detainees were sentenced to death, Agence-France Press reported, with 17 accused of an assortment of charges, including murder. 

Authorities have launched a city-wide search for the prisoners and shut off entrances to Kirkuk, a city some 150 miles north of Baghdad, reported AFP

The city was one of many Iraqi cities hit by a wave of bombings ealier this week, violence that left 43 people dead.