A suicide attack on an Iraqi prison convoy transferring inmates near Baghdad left at least 60 dead on Thursday. Most were convicted terrorists and their bodies were burnt beyond recognition.
Most of those killed in the spectacular pre-dawn ambush were prisoners convicted of terrorism charges being transferred from Taji prison, 15 miles north of the capital.
Explosions from the attack were heard in some neighbourhoods of Baghdad.
"At least 60 people, prisoners and policemen, were killed in a suicide attack followed by several IEDs (improvised explosive devices) and shooting," an interior ministry official told AFP.
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One security source said the inmates were being transferred as a precautionary measure after Taji prison was hit by mortar fire on Wednesday.
The exact circumstances of Thursday's attack were not immediately clear, nor how many attackers were dead or how the prisoners they were apparently trying to free were killed.
The bus was believed to be transporting around 60 prisoners, and medics said 54 of those killed in the attack were inmates.
Most of the bodies were burnt beyond recognition, they said.
Government forces were recently accused by rights watchdogs of having executed more than 250 prisoners since June 9.
Among the allegations are that members of the Iraqi security forces shot prisoners, on the grounds they were sympathetic to advancing forces from the Islamic State (IS) jihadist group, that jails were set on fire and that grenades were tossed into cells.
Since it launched a sweeping offensive on June 9, IS and allied Sunni groups have conquered the country's second city Mosul, overrun large swathes of five provinces and declared a "caliphate" straddling Iraq and Syria.
The onslaught has fanned the flames of sectarian tension between Iraq's Shiite majority and Sunni minority that had already claimed thousands of lives this year alone.
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