Forty inmates escaped from the Khalis prison in Iraq’s Diyala province during a riot that killed at least six police officers and 30 prisoners on Saturday, the Associated Press reports. Some sources put the number of casualties and fugitives much higher, saying as many as 200 inmates escaped.
Brigadier General Saad Maan Ibrahim, the Interior Ministry spokesman, told the AP that the inmates escaped after guards investigating a fight overpowered and disarmed. Some of the fugitives had been convicted on terrorism charges, he said.
“One of the prisoners seized a weapon from a guard. After killing him, the inmate headed up to the weapons storage and he seized more weapons,” Ibrahim told Agence France-Presse. “Clashes erupted inside. We lost a first lieutenant and five policemen, forty prisoners fled. Nine of them were held on terror charges and the rest for common crimes.”
The local chapter of the Islamic State released a statement claiming a contradictory version of events. “Brothers inside the Khalis prison were able to coordinate with brothers outside the prison,” the statement read. “Fifteen IEDs were detonated against army and police convoys and vehicles around the prison.”
“Our brothers managed to take control of the weapons storage and attack the apostates, killing many,” the group claimed. “Thanks to God, more than 30 knights of the Islamic State were freed.”