Thursday, January 20, 2005

British troops,Iraqis wounded in Basra blast

British troops, Iraqis wounded in Basra blast
20 Jan 2005 20:07:39 GMT
Source: Reuters
(Adds British military statement)

BASRA, Iraq, Jan 20 (Reuters) - An explosion at the entrance to a logistics base in British-controlled southern Iraq wounded five British soldiers and several Iraqi civilians on Thursday, the British military said in an emailed statement.

The attack occurred during the afternoon at an entrance to the Shaibah logistics base about 10 km (6 miles) west of Basra, Iraq's second largest city, in the far south of Iraq.

"We can confirm that an incident took place this afternoon, at approximately 1620 hours local time, at the Shaibah Logistic Base about 10 kilometres Southwest of Basrah City," the statement said. "An explosion occurred near to one of the entrances to the base."

It said that it was not yet clear what caused the explosion.

"We can confirm that 5 (five) soldiers from 2nd Battalion The Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment were injured," the statement said.

"Four remain in the British Military Hospital at Shaibah while one is being evacuated to a U.S. medical facility in Kuwait for further treatment."

A group led by al Qaeda ally Abu Musab al-Zarqawi said in an Internet statement it was behind what it called a suicide attack to avenge alleged abuse by British soldiers of Iraqi prisoners.

"Three lions from the martyrs' brigade of al Qaeda Organisation of Holy War in Iraq attacked the base for British occupation forces in Shaibah area in Basra. This operation is in response to the harm inflicted by British occupation forces on our brothers in prison," the statement said.

The group, which has claimed some of the deadliest attacks in Iraq, vowed in the statement to continue its "holy war".

Three British soldiers, Corporal Daniel Kenyon and lance corporals Darren Larkin and Mark Cooley, are accused of abusing Iraqi detainees and face a variety of charges including battery, indecency and disgraceful conduct.

Photos which emerged during their military trial on Tuesday showed naked Iraqi men apparently forced to simulate sex and evoked the scandal involving U.S. soldiers at Baghdad's Abu Ghraib prison.

Attacks on British bases in Basra are common, with insurgents frequently firing mortars at camps in the city.

Britain has around 9,000 troops based in southern Iraq, mostly in Basra, where many Iraqi civilians are employed at the British military's bases.