Prisoners started a fire during a riot at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison, US and Iraqi officials said, resulting in some injuries at the jail that became synonymous with US detainee abuse.
Namir Mohammed, a local council member in western Baghdad’s Abu Ghraib district, said the inmates set fire to mattresses yesterday following a search of the facility for mobile phones and banned drugs or medication, Reuters reports.
Prison officials said inmates were unhappy about conditions at the jail, which became known across the world as the site of US soldiers’ abuse and humiliation of Iraqi detainees after the ouster of Saddam Hussein in 2003.
Pictures of abuse at Abu Ghraib sparked indignation worldwide and helped fuel a
bloody insurgency in Iraq that has only begun to fade in the past 18 months.
The prison has since been taken over by Iraqi officials and was reopened in February with a new name. Iraqi officials plan to hold only a fraction of the tens of thousands of prisoners it housed under Saddam and promise improved conditions.
Ahmed al-Khafaji, deputy interior minister, said late yesterday the fire had been brought under control. It had caused injuries among some prison staff but not the inmates, he said.
This morning, a US military spokesperson said inmates at Abu Ghraib had started a fire in their cell to try to overpower their guards. Three guards and three inmates were reportedly injured, he said. US aircraft backed Iraqi forces in responding to the incident.