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The official said about 20 to 25 prisoners were involved in the melee.

An additional eight police officers and six detainees were wounded, security and hospital officials said.

The injured detainees were brought to Baghdad’s al-Kindi Hospital under tight security, treated and then taken away again by security officials to an unidentified location, officials said.

All the officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

It is the latest embarrassing incident for Iraq related to its detention facilities.

In January, 12 inmates, many believed to have links to al Qaeda in Iraq, were awaiting trial in a temporary detention center in the southern city of Basra when they obtained uniforms and walked out in disguise. They scattered after that to avoid the massive manhunt. At least two later were picked up by security officials in northern Iraq.

Sunday’s prison attack immediately led to cries of outrage over how such an incident could have happened.

“The Interior Ministry lets large number of dangerous terrorist leaders gather in one cell without any means of surveillance such as cameras, and this makes them free to plot and even give orders to people outside to carry out attacks through mobiles smuggled to them in the prison,” Mr. al-Zamili said.

Associated Press writers Saad Abdul-Kadir in Baghdad and Sameer N. Yacoub in Amman, Jordan, contributed to this report.