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Iraq security forces searching for escapees

From Mohammed Lazim, for CNN
September 29, 2012 -- Updated 1803 GMT (0203 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Some of the escapees are al Qaeda on death row
  • The jailbreak took place in Tikrit on Thursday
  • A curfew imposed recently has been lifted

Baghdad (CNN) -- Iraqi security forces were hunting down dozens of escaped prisoners, including several al Qaeda members on death row, authorities said Saturday.

The prisoners broke out of a jail in the northern Iraqi city of Tikrit on Thursday night.

An Interior Ministry official 110 prisoners remain at large. More than half of them are either accused or convicted in terrorism cases and for their affiliation with al Qaeda. At least 33 of them are on death row, he said.

Mohammed Ibrahim, an adviser to the governor of Salahedeen province, gave different figures. He said 76 have escaped, and 16 of them are al Qaeda fighters awaiting the death penalty.

Ibrahim said security forces captured two escapees

The jailbreak occurred when armed men detonated two car bombs at the gates of Tasfirat jail. The explosions triggered clashes with security forces.

Ten security forces and five prisoners died. Twenty security forces and 20 prisoners were wounded.

The assailants wore police uniforms and used cars similar to those driven by police, a police source told the National Iraqi News Agency.

The attackers took over the jail after setting off the car bombs and clashing with authorities, the official said. Afterward, security forces surrounded the jail and engaged in a battle to regain control from the armed men inside, he said.

Tasfirat is a temporary facility for those awaiting trial and convicts who are waiting to be transferred to prisons to serve out their terms.

Authorities on Saturday lifted a curfew imposed after the jailbreak.

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