Al Qaeda Says 7 Suicide Bombers Struck Iraqi Prison

DUBAI – Al Qaeda’s wing in Iraq said on Sunday seven suicide bombers spearheaded its brazen overnight raid onAbu Ghraib prison that wounded 44 U.S. soldiers, according to an Internet statement.

In a statement on Saturday’s raid on the notorious facility outside Baghdad, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi’s group said its fighters killed “dozens of Americans,” destroyed more than 15 vehicles and shot down an Apache helicopter.

It said 57 fighters attacked watchtowers from four sidesand “silenced them” as seven suicide bombers detonated vehicles laden with explosives around the facility.

“Three martyrs were … (killed) while infiltrating the infidels’ fortresses, and seven other martyrdom seekers went to heaven after they blew up the enemy…,” said the statement posted on a Web site used by Islamists.

The U.S. military said dozens of insurgents carried out the attack, detonating two car bombs and firing rocket-propelled grenades at U.S. forces before the assault was repelled.

“Your brothers in the al Qaeda Organization (for Holy War)in Iraq launched a well-planned attack on Abu Ghraib prison, where Muslim women and men are held,” the group said in another statement.

It said the battle, which also involved missile strikes, lasted most of the night.

“Columns of smoke were seen 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.”

The group said it would provide a film of the attack soon.

Besides the 44 U.S. troops wounded, 12 detainees were hurt, one seriously. The U.S. military said at least one insurgent was killed.

It was believed to be the largest and most determined attack on Abu Ghraib, a prison where more than 3,000 suspected insurgents are held in U.S. detention and which was at the center of a prisoner abuse scandal last year.