British forces kill two in Basra

British occupation forces killed two Shia fighters in the southern city of Basra on Thursday, a British military spokeswoman has said.

    There have been sporadic outbreaks of violence in Basra

    "Coalition forces were attacked with small arms fire and

    returned fire, killing two enemy fighters," she

    said, adding that no British forces were wounded.

    The fighting, which lasted about 15 minutes, took place in Iraq's

    second-largest city, which has seen

    occasional outbreaks of violence over the past 15 months.

    Earlier in the day, fighters loyal to Shia

    leader Muqtada al-Sadr

    declared holy war against

    British forces based in Basra after

    four of their comrades were arrested.

    Sheikh Saad al-Basri, al-Sadr's representative in the overwhelmingly Shia city said: "We will wage jihad and war against the foreign

    troops, not against police and Iraqi forces."

    'State of crisis'

    "However, if they (the Iraqi personnel) fight on the side of the

    occupiers, we will strike them harshly."

    "We will wage jihad and war against the foreign

    troops, not against police and Iraqi forces"

    Sheikh Saad al-Basri,

    al-Sadr's representative in Basra

    Basri accused British forces of arresting four al-Sadr supporters

    in order to "create in Basra, the state of crisis that exists in


    An AFP photographer saw British troops deployed in armoured

    vehicles and tanks around al-Sadr's main offices and elsewhere in the


    Police chief General Muhammad Kazem al-Ali said officials at

    al-Sadr's office had rejected his attempts to defuse the tension

    through negotiations.

    Mortar rounds

    Meanwhile, in Amara, north of Basra, a number of mortar rounds were fired

    at a British position in the city but there were no casualties, a

    British spokeswoman said.

    Basra deputy governor Salam Audeh, who represents al-Sadr on a

    provincial council, accused foreign troops of reneging on a June

    truce that ended al-Sadr's uprising earlier this year.

    The British military also confirmed that two projectiles were

    fired at a multinational base camp in Sibah, south of Basra on the

    Kuwaiti border. One hit the camp and the other fell short.

    Neither caused any casualties, it said.



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