BAGHDAD: Militants attacked two Iraqi prisons including the notorious Abu Ghraib in a bid to free inmates, killing 20 security force members in fierce all-night clashes, officials said on Monday.
The coordinated attacks on the prisons in Taji, north of Baghdad, and Abu Ghraib, west of the Iraqi capital, were launched on Sunday night and lasted for around 10 hours, they said.
A police colonel said seven inmates escaped from Abu Ghraib during the clashes but were later arrested, while jihadists claimed on the Internet that thousands of prisoners were freed.
Officials said at least 20 members of the security forces were killed in the attacks on Taji prison and on Abu Ghraib, a facility notorious for abuses committed by United States (US) forces against Iraqi detainees in 2004.
Forty security force members were wounded.
It was not immediately clear how many of the assailants were killed, wounded or captured.
The attacks were launched at around 9:30 p.m. on Sunday when the gunmen fired mortar rounds at the prisons.
Four car bombs were detonated near the entrances to the prisons, while three suicide bombers attacked Taji prison, said the police colonel.
Five roadside bombs also exploded near the prison in Taji.
Fighting continued throughout the night as the military deployed aircraft and sent in reinforcements around the two facilities.