Nineteen detainees escaped from a prison in northern Iraq on Friday in a major prison break that one politician alleged was an inside job.
“Nineteen people, including members of Al-Qaeda and Ansar al-Sunna, fled from prison in Kirkuk at around 3:30 am (0030 GMT),” a security official said. The escapees apparently drugged guards and fellow inmates using poisoned dates that put them to sleep and then climbed out of a window using sheets tied together.
Of the 19, two were sentenced to death and the 17 faced various accusations including murder and being members of al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups that have launched attacks against the U.S. occupation. Security forces have launched a manhunt in Kirkuk.
The prison break comes at a time when most of the country seems to be out of control. Political leaders have been reiterating their warnings that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is building a dictatorship despite receiving continued U.S. support and sectarian violence and terrorist bombings continue to plague society.