U.S. and Iraqi patrols are hunting 16 escaped convicts in Iraq, including five al-Qaeda members awaiting execution.
The prisoners, who were being held in a makeshift jail in one of the dictator's former compounds, apparently escaped by crawling through a bathroom window. At least two senior officials were fired after the late Wednesday escape.
Five of the escapees were sentenced to death for terrorism-related crimes and links to al-Qaeda in Iraq, a Tikrit police officer told The Asssociated Press. The other 11 were jailed on charges that include kidnapping and murder, and some were awaiting sentencing, the officer said. At least one — a 19-year-old inmate — was recaptured early Thursday and the others remained at large.
Under a security pact, the U.S. military plans to turn over control of its remaining detention facilities to Iraqi authorities by next year. Last week, American officials closed one of its largest detention sites, Camp Bucca near the Kuwait border.
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