Iraqi inmates seize weapons, escape from prison

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BAGHDAD — A dozen prisoners, including al-Qaida-linked death row inmates, escaped from a prison near Baghdad today, the latest sign that Iraq still struggles with basic law and order more than a year after American troops withdrew, officials said.

The brazen prison break happened hours before thousands of mostly Sunni protesters rallied in the capital and other parts of the country, keeping pressure on the Iraqi government. Among the demands of the three-week wave of protests are the release of detainees held in Iraqi jails and changes to a tough counterterrorism law that Sunnis believe unfairly targets their sect.

Jailbreaks are not uncommon in Iraq. In September, scores of inmates escaped following clashes at a prison in Tikrit that left 12 people, including 10 guards, dead.

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