Gunmen have attacked a prisoner convoy north of Baghdad, setting off a gunbattle with troops in which 52 prisoners and eight soldiers were killed, officials said. The dawn attack began with militants firing mortar rounds on Iraqi army bases in the town of Taji, where suspects were being held on terrorism charges, prompting officials to evacuate the facilities, fearing a jailbreak. As the convoy travelled through a remote area, roadside bombs went off and militants opened fire. The ensuing battle left 52 prisoners and eight soldiers dead, with another eight soldiers and seven prisoners wounded.
I am deeply saddened by the senseless death of so many Iraqi people.
UN chief Ban Ki-moon
It was not immediately clear if the prisoners were killed by soldiers or militants. UN chief Ban Ki-moon arrived in Baghdad earlier, urging lawmakers to “find a common ground” so they can address the crisis sparked by the rapid advance of the Islamic State extremist group and allied Sunni militants across much of northern and western Iraq last month. At a press conference with embattled Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, Mr Ban said Iraq is facing an “existential threat,” but one that could be overcome if it forms a “thoroughly inclusive government.”