A total of 50 inmates and 12 police died in a prison escape organised by Islamic State, Iraqi officials say.
Supporters of the militant group, also known as ISIS, acknowledged it staged the breakout but disputed officials’ version of events.
Security and police said dozens of prisoners escaped from the Al-Khalis facility around 50 miles northeast of Baghdad, after a riot erupted.
But the Amaq News Agency, which supports IS, said the militants broke in with the help of explosives to free 30 inmates and get into the jail’s weapons stores.
It said Shia militiamen then stormed the prison and killed around 60 IS militants in clashes.
But Oudi Al-Khadran, mayor of the town that houses the prison, insisted: “ISIS was responsible for the killings and the release of ISIS prisoners.”
That account was confirmed by Colonel Ahmed al Imimi of the Diyala province security operations centre.
Al-Khalis holds hundreds of people convicted of terrorism, but it was unclear if any high-profile inmates were held at the prison, according to the head of Diyala’s security committee, Seyyid Sadiq al Husseini.
“The inmates started fighting among themselves, which drew the attention of the police guards who went to break up the fight,” said a police source, who asked not to be named.
“Then the prisoners attacked them, stripped them of their weapons and started a riot while also managing to capture the armoury of the prison.” Read more
Follow us @sabinewsnaija