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Attack on Iraq prisoner convoy kills 60

The incident has reportedly sparked clashes between prisoners and policemen, leading to casualties on both sides

Published: Updated:

At least 51 prisoners and nine policemen died on Thursday after gunmen attacked a bus transferring convicts from a prison north of Baghdad, sources at the Ministry of Justice said.

The incident has reportedly sparked clashes between prisoners and policemen, leading to casualties on both sides, an official at the interior ministry told Agence France-Presse.

"At least 60 people, prisoners and policemen, were killed in a suicide attack followed by several IEDs (improvised explosive devices) and shooting," the official said.

It was not immediately clear who launched the assault, which targeted a security convoy escorting a bus that was transferring around 60 prisoners, many of them held on terrorism charges, from the main prison in Taji, some 25 kilometres (15 miles) north of Baghdad.

The attack took place at about 4:00 am (0100 GMT), hours before UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was to hold talks with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in an effort to spur international mobilisation against a jihadist insurgency.

It came a year almost to the day after militants attacked the same prison in Taji and another facility in Abu Ghraib, west of the capital, killing at least 20 members of the security forces.

Officials said at the time that no inmates had escaped from Taji prison but 500 broke out of Abu Ghraib.

(with AFP)