Iraqi security officials say 15 Iraqi soldiers have been killed while trying to destroy a number of bombs in northern Iraq.
VOA Kurdish service reports that 12 of the soldiers killed in the accident Friday east of Mosul were Kurdish. The soldiers had taken the bombs to a vacant area to detonate them when the blast occurred.
Meanwhile, Iraqi authorities are conducting a massive search for 16 al-Qaida members who escaped Wednesday from a jail in central Iraq. They include five who were sentenced to death.
U.S. military officials say they provided aerial surveillance and search dogs to assist in the search in the city of Tikrit and surrounding areas some 170 kilometers north of Baghdad.
Iraqi security officials say the prisoners broke out Wednesday night from a Tikrit jail, after apparently climbing out through a small window in a bathroom.
Police have closed roads as part of the search and ordered extra surveillance at Iraq's border with Syria.
One prisoner was caught near Tikrit, but the rest remain at large.
After the escape, provincial authorities fired the head of the province's anti-terrorism department, Colonel Mohammed Salih Jbara. Several prison guards were detained for questioning.
Tikrit, a majority Sunni Muslim city, is the hometown of the late, deposed Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.
Some information for this report was provided by Reuters.