Basra: A dozen suspected members
of al Qaeda`s front group in Iraq escaped from a prison in the
south of the country this morning, police said.
"Twelve members of al Qaeda escaped in the early hours
of the morning from a prison in the centre of Basra," the
capital of the eponymous southern province, a policeman said
on condition of anonymity.
"These men stand accused of the attacks carried out
recently in Basra," he said, referring to a car bomb on
November 8 in the main southern city, 450 kilometres (280
miles) south of Baghdad, that left 10 dead and 30 wounded.
The group was among those arrested around two weeks
after the attacks but had yet to stand trial.
Police in Basra have mounted a major operation to
capture the fugitives, including searching nearby houses and
establishing new checkpoints, according to a news agency journalist
in the city.
Basra province is crucial to Iraq`s economy as 80 per
cent of the country`s oil exports, which comprise the vast
majority of government income, pass through it before being
Despite being considered one of the safest provinces
in Iraq, attacks do still occur, with the November blast among
the most high-profile.