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Prisoners Start Fire, Riot At Iraq's Abu Ghraib


BAGHDAD (Reuters) -- Prisoners started a fire during a riot at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison, U.S. and Iraqi officials said, resulting in some injuries at the jail that became synonymous with U.S. detainee abuse.

Namir Mohammed, a local council member in western Baghdad's Abu Ghraib district, said the inmates set fire to mattresses on September 10 following a search of the facility for mobile phones and banned drugs or medication.

Prison officials said inmates were unhappy about conditions at the jail, which became known across the world as the site of U.S. 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 Hussein and promise improved conditions.

Ahmed al-Khafaji, deputy interior minister, said late on September 10 that the fire had been brought under control. It had caused injuries among some prison staff but not the inmates, he said.

On September 11, a U.S. military spokesman 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. U.S. aircraft backed Iraqi forces in responding to the incident.
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