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Four Iraq Detainees Flee U.S.-Controlled Compound in Baghdad

Four detainees are on the run in Iraq after escaping from a U.S.-controlled maximum-security compound near Baghdad, the American military said.

Guards discovered that the detainees were missing on Sept. 8 when they conducted “an accountability sweep” after two other people were caught trying to escape, the military said in a statement e-mailed late yesterday.

U.S. forces are working with Iraqi authorities and Iraq’s Justice Ministry to track down the escapees, the military said, without providing further details. The compound is located within the prison formerly known as Camp Cropper.

American officials transferred the site to Iraq’s Justice Ministry on July 15 as part of an agreement paving the way for the exit of U.S. troops by the end of 2011. Iraq renamed the site Karkh Prison and asked U.S. forces to retain custody of about 200 detainees there, most of whom are alleged to be members of al-Qaeda.

This week’s incident was the second escape from the compound in about three months. Days after the handover, four men broke free, including al-Qaeda’s so-called local ministers of finance and interior, state-sponsored al-Iraqiyah television reported at the time.

About 1,500 detainees at the site were senior members of deposed dictator Saddam Hussein’s regime, American and Iraqi officials have said.

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