Page last updated at 12:12 GMT, Thursday, 24 September 2009 13:12 UK

'Al-Qaeda group' flees Iraq jail

Iraqi police stand guard at a checkpoint in Tikrit
The Iraqi police were offered US military help with the search

Sixteen members of al-Qaeda in Iraq have escaped from a prison north of Baghdad, Iraqi security officials say.

Reports said five of the group, who were being held at a facility in Tikrit, had been sentenced to death for involvement in attacks.

A security official said that the men removed the windows from a bathroom, crawled through the opening and climbed a ladder over the prison walls.

One of the men has since been caught, but the rest remain at large.

Checkpoints have been set up around Tikrit, which is a predominantly Sunni town in Salah al-Din province about 80 miles (130km) from Baghdad.

Iraqi military spokesman Maj Gen Abdul-Karim Khalaf said extra surveillance had also been ordered at Iraq's borders and throughout the north-west of the country.

A senior provincial security official told AFP news agency that the escapees had probably received assistance from within the prison system.

"It is clear there was co-operation with specific groups that helped them escape. Probably one of the officials helped them," he said.

In a separate development, 24 people have been arrested in Morocco on suspicion of having links to a cell recruiting suicide bombers for Iraq, according to a state news agency.

It said the group, based in towns and cities across Morocco, was also suspected of recruiting men to fight in Somalia and Afghanistan.

Print Sponsor

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Sign in

BBC navigation

Copyright © 2018 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific