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Published: Friday December 13, 2013 MYT 6:31:08 PM
Updated: Friday December 13, 2013 MYT 6:32:02 PM

Suspects on run after breakout from Baghdad police cell

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - More than 20 Iraqi suspects escaped from a Baghdad detention centre after murdering a guard on Friday in the latest of a series of jailbreaks, but some were later recaptured and at least one was killed, officials and police sources said.

There were sharply differing versions of how many were still on the loose.

Interior Ministry spokesman Sa'ad Ma'an said 22 people escaped, some of whom had links to al Qaeda, but all except three were later recaptured. One prisoner was killed in clashes outside the centre, he said.

But three police sources told Reuters at least 14 prisoners were on the run from the facility in Kadhimiya, northwest Baghdad. They said 11 people were recaptured but a prisoner and a police officer were killed.

Hakim al-Zamili, a member of a parliamentary committee which oversees the performance of the security services, said the prisoners had pretended that one of them was critically ill and lured a guard into their cell. They then attacked him with sharp weapons, seized his gun and escaped, Zamili said.

"This area is very fortified because many security institutions are based there, which means that the escaped suspects got help from inside to guide them smoothly out," he said.

A coordinated attack in July freed hundreds of prisoners from Baghdad's Abu Ghraib jail, the boldest insurgent operation in Iraq in more than five years. An al Qaeda affiliate, Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), claimed responsibility.

Iraq is going through its worst wave of violence in at least five years and ISIL insurgents have increased their attacks on civilians and government targets.

(Reporting by Kareem Raheem and Suadad al-Salhy, Writing by Sylvia Westall; Editing by Mark Trevelyan)

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