WASHINGTON - A group of 40 to 60 insurgents attacked the Abu Ghraib prison in
Iraq late Saturday in a well-coordinated assault that inflicted 18 American casualties,
U.S. military officials told NBC News.
U.S. officials, who spoke with NBC News in Washington, said insurgents attacked
with two car or truck bombs, 40 mortars and an intense ground assault.
The attack began as darkness fell on the city, 1st Lt. Adam Rondeau told the
Associated Press. Soldiers and Marines stationed at the detention fac!lity responded,
and the resulting clash lasted about 40 minutes, Rondeau said.
"This was obviously a very well-organized attack and a very big attack,"
It was not immediately clear whether any of the insurgents carrying out the
attack suffered casualties or were arrested.
Plumes of smoke were seen rising from the area.
Last summer, pictures showing soldiers piling prisoners naked in a pyramid
at the prison were turned over to investigators. The resulting scandal tarnished
the military's image in Arab countries and around the world and sparked investigations
of detainee abuses.
The United States is holding about 10,500 prisoners in Iraq.
NBC News' Jim Miklaszewski and the Associated Press contributed to this report