U.K. Troops Cut Basra Presence

Iraqis protest outside police station, Basra, Iraq, video still 2005/9/21
British troops in the tense southern city of Basra greatly reduced their presence in the streets Thursday, apparently responding to a provincial governor's call to sever cooperation until London apologized for storming a police station to free two of its soldiers.

For the second day, no British forces were seen accompanying Iraqi police on patrols of Basra, as they routinely had in the past.

Elsewhere, a roadside bomb hit a U.S. convoy in southern Baghdad, killing one soldier and wounding six others; a car bomb wounded another American soldier outside the capital; and suspected insurgents gunned down at least eight Iraqis in four separate attacks Thursday, officials said.

In an interview on Thursday, Iraqi National Security Adviser Mowaffak al-Rubaie called Monday's attack by British forces on a Basra police station "a flagrant violation of Iraqi sovereignty."

At least five Iraqis were killed during Monday clashes between British forces and Iraqi police and demonstrators. British armor crashed into a jail to free the two soldiers arrested by Iraqi police and militiamen. Earlier, a crowd attacked British troops with stones and Molotov cocktails.

In related developments:

  • In Baghdad on Wednesday, a roadside bomb killed one U.S. soldier and wounded six in the Dora section, said Sgt. 1st Class David Abrams of the U.S. Army. The residential area of the capital has been the site of many attacks by insurgents against American forces and Iraqi police.
  • The U.S. military also said an American soldier died Wednesday night of injuries sustained in a vehicle accident near Kirkuk. The death raised the U.S. death toll since the war started in March 2003 to 1,909, according to an Associated Press count.
  • Also Thursday, a bomb hidden in a parked car exploded near a U.S. military convoy on a road about 11 miles south of Baghdad, slightly wounding one soldier, Abrams said.
  • Near the northern city of Kirkuk, a bomb damaged an oil pipeline, sending plumes of black smoke and fire up into the air, officials said.
  • Elsewhere, unidentified men in a speeding car wielding machine guns killed local police commander Col. Fadil Mahmoud Mohammed and his driver Thursday morning near Baquba, north of Baghdad, police said.
  • Six people were killed in the capital, including a man and two of his sons whose home in the New Baghdad area was raided by about 25 gunmen dressed in police uniforms and black masks, said police Col. Ahmed Abod. A second son was kidnapped. Abod said the father, Muhsin Akmosh Al-Timimi, had been working with foreign companies operating in Iraq.
  • Also, two policemen patrolling northeast Baghdad were killed in a separate drive-by shooting, police Col. Ahmed al-Alawi said.
  • The Army private who appeared in those infamous photos of prisoner abuse in Iraq went on trial Wednesday in Texas. Lynndie England could get eleven years in a military prison if convicted. The 22-year-old West Virginia reservist is charged with seven counts of prisoner abuse and conspiracy.