Insurgent Fighters Storm Iraqi Jail

Iraqi policemen look at their damaged vehicle at a police station, in Muqdadiyah, 60 miles north of Baghdad, Iraq, Tuesday, March 21, 2006. Insurgents stormed a jail at dawn Tuesday in the Sunni Muslim heartland north of Baghdad, killing at least 15 police officers and a courthouse guard. (AP Photo/Mohammed Adnan) AP Photo/Mohammed Adnan

Insurgents stormed a jail about dawn Tuesday in the Sunni Muslim heartland north of Baghdad, killing at least 19 policemen and a courthouse guard. Authorities said all 33 prisoners in the lockup were freed and 10 attackers were killed in the battle, CBS News chief foreign correspondent Lara Logan reports.

As many as 100 insurgent fighters — armed with automatic rifles and rocket-propelled grenades — stormed the judicial compound in Muqdadiyah, about 60 miles northeast of the capital. The assault began after the attackers fired a mortar round into the police and court complex, said police Brig. Ali al-Jabouri.

After torching the police station, the insurgents detonated a string of roadside bombs as they fled, taking the bodies of many of their dead comrades with them, police said. At least 13 policemen and civilians and 15 gunmen were wounded in the attack.

Five other police were wounded in two separate roadside bomb attacks targeting patrols in northern and southern Baghdad early Tuesday, police said.

Also in the capital, gunmen killed an employee of the mayor's office while he was driving in the Dora neighborhood, and police discovered eight blindfolded corpses, some of them showing signs of torture, officials said.

The execution-style killings have become an almost daily occurrence in a wave of sectarian violence that has left more than 1,000 Iraqis dead since the bombing last month of a Shiite Muslim shrine.

Tuesday's assaults came a day after 39 people were reported killed by insurgents and shadowy sectarian gangs in Iraq, continuing the wave of violence that has left more than 1,000 Iraqis dead since the bombing last month of a Shiite Muslim shrine.

In other developments:

  • Transcripts from the 1990s show Saddam Hussein was frustrated that no one believed Iraq had given up banned weapons. At one meeting with top aides in 1996, Saddam wondered if U.N. inspectors would "roam Iraq for 50 years." At one point, a frustrated Saddam says, "We don't have anything hidden!" The transcripts, recently released by the U.S., are translations from audio and videotapes of top-level Iraqi meetings held from 1991 to 1997.

  • A U.S. soldier with the 4th Infantry Division was killed by small-arms fire while patrolling western Baghdad, the military said. At least 2,315 members of the U.S. military have died since the war began, according to an Associated Press count.

  • President Bush said Tuesday there will be "more tough fighting ahead" in Iraq, but denied claims that the nation is in the grips of a civil war. "The Iraqis had a chance to fall apart and they didn't," he said at a White House news conference. The president's second full-blown news conference of 2006 was part of an ongoing call for public patience with the Iraq war now into a fourth year. On Monday, Mr. Bush continued his series of speeches on Iraq, speaking at the City Club of Cleveland, and said he has "confidence in our strategy (video)."

  • A jury found an Army dog handler guilty Tuesday of abusing detainees at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison by terrifying them with a military dog, allegedly for his own amusement. Sgt. Michael J. Smith, 24, was found guilty of six of 13 counts. He had faced the stiffest potential sentence of any soldier charged so far in the Abu Ghraib scandal.

  • A powerful group of U.S. senators met on Tuesday with Iraq's interim prime minister, Ibrahim al-Jaafari, to discuss prospects for formation of a national unity government. Committee chairman Sen. John Warner, R-Va. said decisions on U.S. troop presence would be made not only by President Bush, Congress and other leaders, but by "the American people."

  • Police found the bodies of at least 15 more people — including that of a 13-year-old girl — dumped in and near Baghdad.

  • As night fell on Monday, a bomb struck a coffee shop in northern Baghdad, killing at least three civilians and injuring 23 others. At about the same time, gunmen killed two oil engineers leaving work at the Beiji refinery north of Baghdad. An electrical engineer and technician were gunned down at the nearby power station, Beiji police Lt. Khalaf Ayed Al-Janabi said.

  • In southeast Baghdad, a roadside bomb blew apart a minibus, killing four pilgrims returning from the holy city of Karbala, where millions of Shiite faithful gathered to mark the 40th and final day of the annual mourning period for Imam Hussein, grandson of the Prophet Muhammad. Five pilgrims on their way to Karbala were wounded in a drive-by shooting earlier in the day, police said.

  • A policeman in a joint American-Iraqi patrol was killed in Baghdad during fighting with insurgents, and a car bomb targeting a police checkpoint exploded in Baqouba, 35 miles northeast of Baghdad, killing another policeman, authorities said.

  • The international airport in Baghdad remained closed Tuesday after authorities shut it down citing the need to protect the Karbala commemoration, apparently from any attackers who might try to fly into the country.
    • Joel Roberts

    Comments