18 Dead After al-Qaeda Jail Uprising in Iraq
Group leader grabbed gun from guard, set off melee
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted May 8, 2011 12:57 PM CDT
Hightened security is seen on the streets of Baghdad after the prison violence.   (Getty Images)

(Newser) – Members of al-Qaeda staged a deadly attempt to break out of a Baghdad jail today, reports Reuters. The current death toll stands at 11 prisoners and seven security officers, including one of Iraq's top anti-terror officials. The trouble began when al-Qaeda leader Huthaifa al-Batawi—who's accused of masterminding a church attack that killed dozens last year—grabbed a gun from a guard and began shooting, reports AFP.

Batawi overpowered the security officer on his way to being questioned about possible revenge plots in the wake of Osama bin Laden's killing, notes the BBC. He and other inmates commandeered other weapons and held guards at bay for hours before being subdued. Batawi was among those killed. The violence follows a successful Taliban jailbreak in Afghanistan.