Seven prisoners die in mortar attack on Iraqi prison

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Monday, December 10, 2007

At least seven inmates have died and 23 were injured after multiple mortar rounds struck a prison in Baghdad, Iraq. The facility is located near an interior ministry complex, on the Eastern bank of the River Tigris in the central part of the capital, and it is thought that this could have been the intended target of the attack.

The attack took place while inmates were sleeping, at 6:30 a.m. local time (UTC+3). The prison building was organised as several cell blocks, each accommodating men charged with terrorism-related offenses or "civil offenses", the Associated Press quoted an anonymous police source as saying.

One of the rounds struck a cell directly, while two more were confirmed to have landed in close proximity, coming within 200 yard of the main ministry building. The wounded were transported to a hospital within the nearby interior ministry site. It is understood that several police officers were among the injured. American troops have locked down the area and are investigating the attack.

Also today, a large fire broke out at the city's only oil refinery. Early reports based on statements made by Iraqi authorities suggested that the Doura plant had been the subject of rocket attack, but United States officials in Iraq have later blamed it on an industrial accident, saying an explosion had occurred after the failure of a pipeline. Due to the facility's highly sensitive nature it has been the target of several previous insurgent attacks.