Twelve Islamic militants linked to the al-Qaeda terrorist group broke out of an Iraqi prison in Basra, according to the BBC. The men, who were awaiting trial, managed to obtain Iraqi police uniforms and were allowed to walk out of the detention facility in southern Iraq without question.
The group of men is said to have ties with the Islamic State of Iraq, a Sunni insurgent group affiliated with al-Qaeda.
Authorities believe the escaped jihadists had help from within the prison and all guards have been placed under arrest while a manhunt is under way.
“Of course, there was collusion from within the compound, but we do not know who is involved at the moment,” Ali Ghanim al-Maliki, head of the security committee at Basra’s provincial council said.
According to the BBC, the 12 men were the only detainees being held at this particular detention facility, located inside one of Saddam Hussein’s former palaces. At least six of the men had confessed to being involved in multiple bombing attacks since 2004.
Officials speculate that the 12 fugitives likely fled to Baghdad to obtain fake identification and passports to help them flee Iraq.