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Death row Iraqis among 8 escapees recaptured

  • Story Highlights
  • Eight of 16 insurgents who escaped from a Tikrit prison are recaptured
  • Three of the recaptured prisoners had been sentenced to death
  • Prisoners fled through air vent and then climbed over concrete prison wall
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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Eight of the 16 members of al Qaeda in Iraq who escaped Wednesday night from a Tikrit prison north of Baghdad have been recaptured, security officials in Samarra told CNN Saturday.

Two of the prisoners were captured Saturday morning in Samarra by security forces conducting house-to-house searches.

U.S. forces have provided military working dogs at the request of the local Emergency Response Unit to search the compound near the jail from which the escapes occurred.

Multi-national forces searched the city and outlying areas from the air.

Three of the eight recaptured prisoners had previously been sentenced to death for crimes that include killing and kidnapping, officials said.

Police launched the manhunt after the prisoners fled through an air vent and then climbed over a concrete prison wall. Iraqi special forces have been called into the search and border guards have been alerted to ensure the men don't cross into a neighboring country, police said.

Police have distributed pictures of the fugitives throughout Salaheddin province, where Tikrit is located.

The Iraqi Interior Ministry has taken charge of the investigation and all prison guards at Tikrit are being investigated, police said. The prison holds more than 400 inmates.

Al Qaeda in Iraq is an insurgent group that pledged its allegiance to Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda terror network in 2004, after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. Its members largely are native Iraqis, but they also include foreign fighters, and foreigners have been the group's prominent leaders.

Tikrit, the hometown of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, is about 160 km (99 miles) north of Baghdad.

CNN's Mohammed Jamjoom contributed to this report.

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