Abu Ghraib, the Iraqi prison that became the center of a 2004 prison-abuse scandal during the U.S. occupation, is being closed temporarily because of security concerns, according to the country’s Justice Ministry.
The infamous prison, located on the outskirts of Baghdad near Sunni-dominated Anbar province, is being shut because of fears it could be overrun by Sunni insurgents, according to The New York Times.
The area “sees frequent clashes between an al-Qaida splinter group, known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant, and government forces and their Sunni tribal militias,” The Associated Press reports.
“The ministry of justice announced the complete closure of Baghdad central prison, previously Abu Ghraib, and the removal of the inmates in co-operation with the ministries of defence and justice,” Justice Minister Hassan al-Shimmari said in a statement.
“The ministry took this decision as part of precautionary measures related to the security of prisons,” Shimmari said, adding that Abu Ghraib was “in a hot area.”
The Justice Ministry says it has moved 2,400 prisoners arrested or sentenced on terrorism-related charges to other high-security prisons in the country’s north and central regions in a move the Times says underscores “the rapid deterioration of security in Iraq since the beginning of the year, when insurgents captured Fallujah, a short drive from the prison, from which hundreds of inmates escaped last year.”