17 Qaeda-linked detainees escape prison in Iraq

Iraqi security forces stand guard in central Baghdad, Iraq, March 23, 2012. The Iraqi government has tightened its security measures as al-Qaeda's front group in Iraq claimed it was behind a wave of attacks.

BAGHDAD - An Iraqi police official says 17 detainees have broken out of prison in a northern city.

Police spokesman in Kirkuk city Brig. Gen. Sarhat Qadir said Friday that 10 of those who escaped from an interior ministry detention center were al Qaeda-affiliated detainees.

Qadir said the detainees escaped at dawn from a small window using rope made of blankets. Police started a manhunt to find them, he said.

Kirkuk, which is 180 miles (290 kilometers) north of Baghdad, is the main oil hub in northern Iraq. It's been the scene of sporadic insurgent violence and ongoing tensions between the region's three main groups — Kurds, Arabs and Turkomen.