Military officials said the shooting took place late on Wednesday as troops returned from a raid in Ali al-Gharbi. They were met by a crowd of 30 Iraqis who formed a roadblock and escaped, only to be stopped by a second roadblock.

British occupation soldiers detained 10 people from the crowd and withdrew to their base at al-Amarah, about 120km north of Basra, with protection from helicopters and additional rapid reaction troops called to the scene.

The Wednesday death brings the British toll in the war to 49, with 11 killed since 1 May when US President George Bush declared an end to hostilities in the war-torn country.