Iraqi security forces stand guard in front of a prison in the Baladiyat neighborhood in eastern Baghdad, Iraq, Monday, Sept. 19, 2011 (Photo: AP)
Eight inmates were killed in an early morning fire Monday at a prison in the Iraqi capital Baghdad, police and medical officials said. At least 31 other inmates were treated for smoke inhalation and other injuries from the blaze that broke out at dawn in an Interior Ministry jail in Baladiyat, a mostly Shiite neighborhood in eastern Baghdad.
Lawmaker Hakim al-Zamili, who represents the nearby Sadr City area, said the fire was caused by an electrical malfunction. He confirmed the death toll.
Al-Zamili called on authorities to speed the investigations of some of the inmates, many of whom he said have not yet been charged and may be innocent. He also sought to quell speculation that the inmates may have started the fire in an attempted prison break.
"They could have escaped, but they did not," al-Zamili said. "We understand that there is frustration and the prisons suffer from shortcomings, but the real reason of the fire is a short circuit."
He said the surviving inmates in the area where the fire broke out have been transferred to elsewhere in the prison.
It took firefighters about an hour to extinguish the blaze, and the injured and dead were taken to Kindi and Ibin Nafees hospitals.