US troops injured in raid on Abu Ghraib attack

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The Independent Online

Heavily armed insurgents have launched an audacious attack on the notorious Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, wounding 44 American soldiers and 12 prisoners, the US military said.

Heavily armed insurgents have launched an audacious attack on the notorious Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, wounding 44 American soldiers and 12 prisoners, the US military said.

The raid on Saturday night, which the self-proclaimed "al-Qa'ida wing in Iraq" claimed to have carried out, targeted an outbuilding with two suicide car bombs, American officials said, and followed up with small-arms fire and grenades.

In a statement on a website that regularly carries extremist Islamic material, it was claimed that militants detonated suicide car bombs at the main gates after "snipers" fired more than 39 Katyusha rockets at US forces. "Columns of smoke were rising from the crusaders' bases," the statement said. "This battle is part of a series of raids ... which began yesterday across the land of Mesopotamia."

It was thought to be the largest and most determined attack on Abu Ghraib, where 3,000 suspected insurgents are held in US detention and which was at the centre of a prisoner-abuse scandal last year.

The raid came hours before the new Iraq assembly elected a Sunni Muslim, Hajim al-Hassani, as speaker, ending weeks of deadlock and potentially clearing the way for a new government. Formerly the industry minister in the interim administration, he called on his fellow lawmakers to work together to try to stop the new assembly collapsing. "If we neglect our duties and fail, we will hurt ourselves and the people will replace us with others," he said.

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