(LYON, France) — Interpol issued a global security alert and announced on Saturday an investigation into whether a number of prison escapes believed to involve al-Qaida are connected.
According to an Interpol release, a series of prison breaks, including recent incidents in Iraq, Libya and Pakistan, have seen hundreds of terrorists and other criminals escape from prisons in nine Interpol member countries this month. The police agency asked all 190 member countries for assistance in determining whether the events were coordinated or linked in any way. The agency also asks for notification once any terrorist is located or intelligence is developed.
BBC News reports that the most recent escape, in northwest Pakistan, saw 248 prisoners escape. Taliban militants armed with automatic weapons and bombs managed to break down the walls of a prison in Dera Ismail Khan on July 30. Thirteen people were killed, the BBC News says, including six police officers.
Two other escapes, at Abu Ghraib and Taji in Iraq, saw hundreds more escape on July 22. Reports indicate that a number of the prisoners who fled had been jailed for involvement in suicide bombings and other serious attacks.
On July 27 in Benghazi, 1,200 inmates broke out of another jail. Interpol believes that al-Qaida was involved in “several” of the breakouts.
The release from Interpol also points out a number of violent attacks that have taken place in the month of August, the anniversaries of which could potentially prompt similar attacks.
The U.S. issued a global travel warning to U.S. citizens around the world Friday out of fear that al Qaeda is planning to carry out attacks on American targets. In addition, the State Department ordered the temporary closing of 21 embassies and consulates that would normally be open on Sunday, including offices at some of America’s biggest embassies and closest allies in the Muslim world in Egypt, Baghdad, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Yemen.
Britain, Germany and France also announced that their embassies in Yemen will be closed on Sunday. Britain and Germany’s embassies will also remain closed on Monday as well.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Barbie Latza Nadeau, Livia Borghese and Joshua Berlinger, CNN
Kareem Khadder, CNN
Ben Westcott, CNN
Marisa Russell, CNN