Several suspected al-Qaida in Iraq insurgents staged a daring jailbreak Friday, killing at least 10 police officers and six prisoners during their escape from a prison in Ramadi, authorities said.
Authorities in Iraq's Anbar province, of which Ramadi is the capital, said three inmates considered to be senior militants in al-Qaida in Iraq escaped from the city's al-Forsan police station.
The prison break began when inmates overpowered a guard, grabbed his weapon and shot him dead. They also killed the prison commandant, officials said.
Some 40 detainees were set free in an ensuing riot, which lasted for two hours. Police were able to recapture all but three of the militants, authorities said.
Ramadi, 70 miles west of Baghdad, was on lockdown as authorities tried to recapture the escapees. Police imposed a curfew and were conducting door-to-door searches of homes.
Few other details were immediately available.
The Iraqi government took over security at al-Forsan from the U.S. military in September, and Friday's jailbreak could call into question the timetable for relinquishing U.S. control over the country. Iraq now controls security in 13 of Iraq's 18 provinces.
Anbar was once center stage of the Sunni insurgency, which broke out soon after the U.S.-led invasion of 2003 toppled Saddam Hussein's Sunni-dominated regime. The province has been largely calm since tribal sheiks there turned against the insurgents and began cooperating with U.S. forces.
Meanwhile, three Iraqi soldiers were killed by a roadside bomb attack in Diyala province.
While December has been one of the least deadly months for U.S. forces since the war began, Iraqi security forces are now bearing the brunt of continuing insurgent attacks.
From NPR and wire reports