BAGHDAD – Gunmen attacked a prisoner convoy north of Baghdad on Thursday, setting off a gunbattle with troops in which 52 prisoners and eight soldiers were killed, officials said.
The dawn attack began with militants firing mortar rounds on Iraqi army bases in the town of Taji, where suspects were being held on terrorism charges, prompting officials to evacuate the facilities, fearing a jailbreak.
As the convoy travelled through a remote area, roadside bombs went off and militants opened fire. The ensuing battle left 52 prisoners and eight soldiers dead, with another eight soldiers and seven prisoners wounded, they added. It was not immediately clear if the prisoners were killed by soldiers or militants.
The town of Taji is located some 20 kilometres (12 miles) north of the capital.
The officials — two policemen, an army officer and a medical official — spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to release information.
Associated Press writer Murtada Faraj contributed to this report.