THE ISIS militant group has claimed to have broken dozens of criminals out of an Iraqi jail in a violent prison raid that left more than 60 people dead.
Iraqi officials said 12 police officers died and 50 inmates attempting to escape were slaughtered, amid conflicting reports of what started the prison break.
A riot erupted, following which dozens of prisoners escaped from the Al-Khalis facility about 80 km (50 miles) northeast of Baghdad, security and police officials have said.
But according to Amaq News Agency, which supports the so-called "Islamic State", a group of Isis militants broke in to the prison from the outside using explosives, and managed to get into the prison's weapon stores and free 30 inmates.
A bomb exploded in Baghdad yesterday The agency claimed Shia militiamen then stormed the prison and killed approximately 60 people in clashes.
"Isis was responsible for the killings and the release of Isis prisoners," said Oudi Al-Khadran, the mayor of the town where the prison is located. His account was supported by Colonel Ahmed al-Timimi of the Diyala Province Security Operations Centre
The Al-Khalis facility reportedly held around 300 people convicted of terror charges.
It was not clear if any high-profile prisoners were held at Al-Khalis, said the Head of Diyala's Security Committee, Seyyid Sadiq al-Husseini.
An anonymous police source has, however, provided an account contradicting that given by the Amaq News Agency.
"The inmates started fighting among themselves, which drew the attention of the police guards who went to break up the fight," he said.
"Then the prisoners attacked them, stripped them of their weapons and started a riot while also managing to capture the armoury of the prison," he added.
Authorities declared a curfew in Al-Khalis and raided houses in search of escaped convicts, according to another police source.
The Iraqi government, which is backed by US air strikes in its campaign against Isis, is also trying to contain widespread sectarian violence.
A car bomb in Baghdad on Saturday killed seven civilians and wounded 14 others, police and medical sources said.
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