Yesterday an attempted prison break in a Duhok — in a prison that contained convicted terrorists — led to seven inmates being killed and several others injured. The deaths and injuries occurred when the would-be escapees set fire to their cell block. Zirka prison houses around 1,500 convicted terrorists, most of which were members of the Islamic State including hardened militants and trained operatives. An attempted attack on a prison transport happened last year, when a group of armed gunmen executed a coordinated attack on prison transport being escorted by members of Kurdistan‘s elite Counter Terrorism Group. The attack was unsuccessful, and Kurdistan Regional Government officials claimed it was perpetrated by disgruntled ex-employees of the prison where the transfers were being sent from.

The governor of Duhok, Farhad Atrushi, told press that,

Someone named Saddam Jasim Hamad, having three death sentence verdicts on charges of terror, has created the riot by engaging in a brawl with police guards of their ward. After the police blocked the door from them as they tried to break it, he had called on other inmates from the ward to help him, thus the fight erupted. When they were blocked by the police, Saddam had set the ward on fire, killing seven … It was not a fight between Kurds and Arabs. All those who died were from suffocation due to smoke.”

The injuries were estimated to be 15 inmates and three policemen as well as the head of Zirka prison. Prison and government officials suspect that the prisoners started a riot as a distraction in order to start the fire. Governor Atrushi informed the public and family members of inmates and prison guards that the incident had been contained and that their respective relatives were now safe from harm. The investigation into the incident is still on going and it has yet to be determined if there was an insider or foul play involved.

Featured image: U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Gary J. Volesky, left, the commander of Combined Joint Task Force Land Component Command – Operation Inherent Resolve, and a French soldier peer out of a guard tower at Camp Monsabert, Iraq, March 24, 2016. Volesky visited the camp to meet with Task Force Monsabert senior leaders and to receive a briefing on the ongoing training effort there. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Katie Eggers [Public Domain]