MidEastWire.com Daily Iraq Monitor
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December 28, 2005 - MidEastWire.com Daily Iraq Monitor

December 28, 2005

"Four commandos affiliated with the Iraqi Interior Ministry have received moderate to serious wounds after unknown gunmen blew up a car at a checkpoint of the Interior Ministry's commando force near a pharmaceutical factory in Samarra. The Al Arabiya correspondent in Samarra said that two mortars were fired after the explosion, which took place during massive demonstrations in the streets of Samarra in protest against what was described as fraud that took place during the Iraqi elections."

Muhammad al-Askari, spokesman for the Iraqi Defence Ministry, commented on the prison breakout in Baghdad on December 28 which led to the death of a number of inmates in a live five-minute interview with Dubai-based news channel Al Arabiya TV at 1508 GMT on December 28.

Commenting on the details of the incident, Al-Askari says that "a number of prisoners killed a guard and took his weapons and headed towards the guards room. I think the guards were asleep, so they killed four guards and seized their weapons. There were 18 inmates who carried out the operation and they escaped. The First Brigade cordoned off the area and eight people were arrested; four inmates and not 20 were killed."

Asked about security measures in the prison, Al-Askari says: "This is the responsibility of the Justice Ministry and the guards are from the Justice Ministry. However, because the prison was close to the Defence Ministry, the brigade commander took a quick decision. It seems there was negligence on the part of the guards who are originally affiliated with the Justice Ministry. These prisons are also affiliated with the Justice Ministry. However, since the military base and the prison are close to the Defence Ministry, the [first] brigade acted to control the situation. I think that four inmates were killed, three were wounded and three escaped. The area is still cordoned off to search for the escapees. Eight of them were arrested."

Asked about the inmates, Al-Askari says that "they are involved in major crimes. Most of them are dangerous prisoners and they are from many nationalities. Some of them are Iraqis, Arabs and even from a European country."

Asked what the Justice Ministry will do, Al-Askari says "the investigation will prove which parties failed to do their duty. What is important now that the incident had taken place is that it was controlled quickly and not many inmates managed to escape. All of those who escaped were arrested except for three who will be arrested in the coming hours." - Abrar, Iran



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