Iraq prison revolt leaves 16 dead; three al Qaida escape

BAGHDAD _ Prisoners in a western Iraqi prison staged an armed revolt Friday morning that lasted for at least two hours and left 10 policemen and six prisoners dead.

Three al Qaida in Iraq prisoners escaped and are on the loose, Iraqi police said.

On Friday morning in southern Ramadi about 40 prisoners lured a guard to their cell in al Fursan prison. They pulled him to the bars, killed him and stole the key from his dead body, then unlocked their cell.

The prisoners then raided a weapons storage unit and used rifles to shoot their way out in a gun battle that lasted more than two hours, said Ahmed al Anbari, a police officer in Tamim neighborhood where the prison is located.

The prison houses some of the most high-level al Qaida in Iraq prisoners in the province, which was once a hotbed of the Sunni insurgency.

During the gun battle, prisoners shot and killed the head of the prison, Lt. Col. Abdul Ghani al Dulaimi, as well as eight other policemen. After intense fighting, reinforcements from other police stations surrounded the prison and ended the revolt, disarming and rounding up the prisoners. But the three al Qaida in Iraq prisoners were able to flee the building.

The prison break came days before a security agreement between Iraq and the United States goes into effect. The agreement will put more control in the hands of the fledgling Iraqi security forces.