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Al Qaeda claims responsibility for pair of prison breaks in Iraq

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BAGHDAD — Al Qaeda’s Iraq affiliate asserted responsibility Tuesday for brazen assaults on two prisons on the outskirts of Baghdad two days earlier that freed hundreds of inmates, including many of its own members, in one of the most serious breaches of security since the US military withdrawal from the country more than two years ago.

In a statement posted on jihadist websites titled “Conquering the Tyrants,” the Al Qaeda branch in Iraq, a largely homegrown organization of Sunni militant extremists, said the assaults on the two high-security prisons, Taji and Abu Ghraib, had been planned for months.

The audacity of the assaults underscored the deterioration of Iraq’s stability, punctuated recently by an almost daily litany of car bombings and other violence tied to a resurrection of sectarian tensions in the country, largely between the majority Shi’ites and minority Sunnis.

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