LYON, France, July 24 (UPI) -- The international police agency Interpol said Wednesday it issued a regional security alert after a mass breakout of hundreds of prisoners at two Iraqi prisons.
The alert was issued to member countries in the region to warn them of the threat posed by the escaped inmates, many of them al-Qaida members, an Interpol statement said.
Gunmen attacked the prisons in Taji, north of Baghdad, and Abu Ghraib, west of the capital, July 21 in a coordinated night-time strike, using mortar fire to gain access and free the prisoners. At least 20 members of Iraqi security forces were killed. Interpol called the jailbreaks "a major threat to global security."
The United Nations extended the mandate of the U.N. Assistance Mission for Iraq Wednesday until July 2014, noting the upsurge in violence and terrorist acts in the country.
The mission's latest report said the increase in violence has resulted in civilian casualties in numbers not seen since 2008.