Sunday, December 21, 2014   

60 dead in huge attack near Baghdad
(07-24 16:48)

Gunmen attacked a prisoner convoy north of Baghdad on Thursday, setting off a gunbattle with troops in which 52 prisoners and eight soldiers were killed, officials said.

The attack came as Iraq's parliament was set to elect a president, part of a troubled political transition that has seen repeated delays despite the lightning advance of Sunni militants across much of northern and western Iraq last month.

U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon arrived in Baghdad earlier Thursday to encourage lawmakers to form a more inclusive government that can address the crisis.

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 traveled 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, they added. It was not immediately clear if the prisoners were killed by soldiers or militants, or if the extremist Islamic State group was involved.

The town of Taji is located some 20 kilometers (12 miles) north of the capital. --AP   
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