Gunmen attacked a prisoner convoy north of Baghdad today, setting off a gun battle with troops in which 52 prisoners and eight soldiers were killed, officials say. The attack came as Iraq's parliament was set to elect a president, part of a troubled political transition that has seen repeated delays despite the lightning advance of Sunni militants across much of northern and western Iraq last month. UN chief Ban Ki-moon arrived in Baghdad earlier today to encourage lawmakers to form a more inclusive government that can address the crisis.
The latest attack began at dawn with militants firing mortar rounds on Iraqi army bases in the town of Taji, 12 miles north of Baghdad, where suspects were being held on terrorism charges, prompting officials to evacuate the facilities, fearing a jailbreak. As the convoy traveled through a remote area, roadside bombs went off and militants opened fire. In addition to those who were killed, the ensuing battle left eight soldiers and seven prisoners wounded, officials say. It wasn't immediately clear if the prisoners were killed by soldiers or militants, or if ISIS extremists were involved.