Basra salary protest turns violent

Iraqi army veterans fought with Iraqi police in the southern port city of Basra when a 400-man protest for unpaid salaries turned violent.

    British troops take position as protesters' anger intensifies

    According to reports, the soldiers from Saddam Hussein's dissolved army, marched on the Rafidain Bank in central Basra, Iraq's second largest city, and demanded the occupying US-led coalition pay them salaries on the morning of the 83rd annual Iraqi Army Day.

    The demonstrators then tried to break into the bank, with a group trying to force open the doors. Police from inside the bank fired shots at the former soldiers. At least 10 people were wounded, witnesses said.
     
    British military spokesman Squadron Leader David King confirmed there had been a protest outside a bank, but had no further details.
     
    "It's calmed down now," King said.

    Army dissolved

    Soldiers are demanding salaries
    they say are due to them

    The coalition said it finished paying stipends to Iraqi military conscripts in October. At that time, some veterans clashed with occupation soldiers, as the long stipend lines turned unruly and shots were fired by both sides.

    The occupying coalition announced a stipend for former army officers in June after the top US administrator in Iraq, Paul Bremer, dissolved the 350,000-strong army, and veterans threatened to take up arms if the Americans did not offer them compensation.

    SOURCE: AFP


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