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At least 60 killed in attack on prison convoy near Baghdad

Afp

Suicide bombers and gunmen mounted an attack on a security convoy that was transferring convicts from a prison north of Baghdad, police said Thursday, sparking fierce clashes with security forces that left at least 60 dead.

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"At least 60 people, prisoners and policemen, were killed in a suicide attack followed by several IEDs (improvised explosive devices) and shooting," an interior ministry official told AFP.

Security and medical officials said that around 50 prisoners were killed, many of them burnt beyond recognition.

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 being held on terrorism charges – from the main prison in Taji, some 25 kilometres (15 miles) north of Baghdad.

The attack took place at about 4am (1am GMT), just hours before UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was to hold talks with Iraq's Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki to discuss eliciting international help in combating a Sunni jihadist insurgency led by the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria, also known as ISIS or ISIL.

In a press conference following the talks, Ban warned that Iraq was facing an "existential threat" that could only be overcome "by the formation of a thoroughly inclusive government".

The prison convoy attack came almost a year 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.

Al Qaeda claimed at the time that it had freed 500 prisoners from Abu Ghraib.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

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