Interpol issues alert following al-Qaida-linked prison breaks

Libyans gather near a burned-out vehicle after an attack outside the courthouse in Benghazi the day after more than 1,000 inmates escaped during a prison riot.

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Libyans gather near a burned-out vehicle after an attack outside the courthouse in Benghazi the day after more than 1,000 inmates escaped during a prison riot.

A series of high-profile prison breaks linked to al-Qaida in Iraq, Libya and Pakistan, has prompted Interpol to issue a global security alert asking member countries to "swiftly process any information linked to these events."

The Lyon, France-based international police agency noted that because al-Qaida was suspected to be involved in the jailbreaks, it was urgent to determine whether they were directly linked and to capture the escapees.

The incidents occurred in Iraq at the Abu Ghraib prison on July 22, with some 500 convicts getting away, while 1,100 inmates escaped a prison in Benghazi, Libya on July 27 and a third prison break occurred in Pakistan on July 31.

Interpol, with some 190 member countries, also noted that August is the anniversary of several high-profile terrorist attacks – in 1998 against U.S. embassies in East Africa and in Mumbai, India, in 2008.

The Interpol alert follows the U.S. State Department's announcement of a worldwide travel warning for Americans abroad and the temporary closure of several U.S. embassies in the Middle East and Africa. The United Kingdom and France have also said they will temporarily close embassies.

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