BAGHDAD, Iraq – A statement purportedly made by Al Qaeda's wing in Iraq claimed responsibility Sunday for the attack on the notorious Abu Ghraib (search) jail west of Baghdad that injured 44 U.S. servicemen and 12 prisoners.
The statement, posted on a Web site that regularly carries extremist Islamic material, claimed "snipers" fired more than 39 Katyusha rockets at U.S. forces before militants detonated several suicide car bombs at the prison's main gates.
"Then the merciful brigades and Muslim soldiers clashed with the infidels," added the statement made by the Al Qaeda in Iraq (search) group, which could not be immediately authenticated.
The statement added that the "well organized attack took place on Abu Ghraib prison where female prisoners and Muslim POWs are kept."
The group led by Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi has said many of its latest killings were in revenge for Iraqi women being held by coalition authorities. The U.S. military denies it is holding any Iraqi women.
The U.S. military said at least 40 militants fired rocket-propelled grenades and set off two car bombs at the prison as darkness fell Saturday.
Soldiers and Marines stationed at the detention facility responded, and the resulting clash and gunfight lasted about 40 minutes. No prisoners escaped and some of the injuries were serious.
Al Qaeda's statement said the battle continued all night, adding it was "part of a series battles" and that further details and footage of the operation would be released later.
Al Qaeda in Iraq has claimed responsibility for beheading numerous Western hostages and most major vehicle bombings and killings of senior Iraqi officials, police, national guards. Al-Zarqawi is one of the most wanted militants in Iraq.