updated 5/10/2006 9:39:07 AM ET 2006-05-10T13:39:07

Five people escaped from a U.S. detention center in northern Iraq, the U.S. command said Wednesday.

The detainees escaped early Tuesday from the Fort Suse Theater internment facility near Sulaimaniyah, 160 miles northeast of Baghdad, said Spc. Stacy Sanning, a spokesman for the U.S. command in Baghdad. U.S. soldiers and Iraqi forces were searching for them, he said.

Sanning did not identify the escapees, saying the incident was being investigated, but Col. David Gray, commander of the 1st Brigade of the 101st Airborne Division, said three were Arabs and a fourth was an Iraqi Kurd. The nationality of the fifth was not immediately known.

Photographs of the escapees were distributed to U.S. and Iraqi search teams and local authorities, Sanning said. Checkpoints were set up on major roads, and surrounding land owners were notified about the search, he said.

Originally, U.S. forces operated three main detention centers in Iraq: Abu Ghraib, Camp Bucca and Camp Cropper. Fort Suse then was built to accommodate a prisoner population that expanded rapidly as more suspected insurgents were captured.

Fort Suse is on the site of a Russian-built former Iraqi military barracks.

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