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Iraq Transition

Iraqi forces thwart jailbreak plot

Story Highlights

• Insurgents launch multiple bomb attacks in bid to free inmates from Mosul prison
• Attack was largest in northern Iraqi city in eight months, U.S. military official says
• Bombs killed 10 Iraqi police officers, one Iraqi soldier, two civilians
• Iraqi troops, backed by the U.S. military, fought with insurgents for two hours
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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- At least nine bombings in and near the northern Iraqi city of Mosul on Wednesday were aimed at freeing hundreds of inmates from an Iraqi prison, Iraqi and U.S. military sources said.

A high-ranking U.S. military official said Thursday that Iraqi security forces showed they were trained and ready with their response to what he said was the largest insurgent attack in that part of Iraq in eight months.

Mosul police spokesman Gen. Saied al-Jabouri said intelligence reports suggested the attacks were coordinated by al Qaeda and the Islamic State of Iraq -- which he said were "two sides of the same coin" -- and were an effort to free at least 300 inmates from the al-Faisaliya prison in Mosul.

Al-Jabouri said seven of the 10 vehicle-borne bombs were suicide car bombings and that a key bridge, many buildings, shops and homes were destroyed during a six-hour period starting late Wednesday afternoon.

A U.S. military source said the bombs killed 10 Iraqi police officers, one Iraqi soldier and two civilians. He credited the Iraqi security forces for these "minimal casualties," saying it "could have been much worse if they were not doing their job."

"The ISF dealt with it, showing the people they are trained and ready," the U.S. military official said.

Al-Jabouri said Iraqi troops, backed by the U.S. military, fought with insurgents for two hours across Mosul, killing 15 of them and one Saudi national.

He agreed with the U.S. military official's assessment that it was the largest insurgent operation in the area since October.

Al-Jabouri said intelligence reports in recent days indicated al Qaeda was planning to carry out complex operations across Mosul.

Along with the Iraqi-controlled prison, the attacks targeted a police station and patrol and four bridges, the U.S. official said. Most of the building damage came from fires that followed the blast, not the explosions themselves, he said. One car bomb was found and cleared before it exploded, he said.

Al-Jabouri said that in addition to the car bombs, 10 roadside bombs and 20 mortars exploded across Mosul, which is about 420 km (260 miles) north of Baghdad.

One Iraqi was killed and six people were wounded Thursday morning in several explosions south of Baghdad, Hilla police reported.

The death occurred when a roadside bomb exploded in Hilla, about 60 miles (100 km) south of Baghdad. Three people were wounded in the blast.

In Iskandariya, a town about 30 miles south of Baghdad, two people were wounded when a hand grenade exploded inside an apartment. Also in that town, police said a roadside bomb exploded, wounding one.

Other developments

• Three U.S. soldiers were killed and one was wounded Thursday when a roadside bomb exploded near their patrol south of Baghdad, the U.S. military said. So far this month, 53 U.S. troops have been killed in Iraq. The U.S. military death toll since the Iraq war began has reached 3,404.

• Thousands of U.S. soldiers were treading through Iraq's "Triangle of Death" on Thursday, looking for signs of three U.S. soldiers who disappeared Saturday after an insurgent attack. Four others, plus a translator, were killed in the predawn attack outside Mahmoudiya, south of Baghdad. (Full story)

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Iraqi soldiers patrol the streets of Baghdad on Thursday.

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