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Dead Britons were training police

British troops on patrol without flak jackets and helmets.
British troops on patrol without flak jackets and helmets.

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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Six British personnel have been killed and several soldiers wounded in two separate incidents near Basra in southern Iraq, the UK Ministry of Defence said.

In the first attack six Royal Military Police involved in training local police were killed near the city of al-Amarah, about 200 km (120 miles) north of Iraq's second city of Basra Tuesday.

Local information suggests it may be related to an incident at the town police station.

In the second incident eight troops were injured during a routine patrol in the same area -- one in an initial clash and seven other Quick Reaction Force troops when their RAF Chinook helicopter came under fire in an attempted rescue.

Three of the injured are in a serious condition, and two have been taken to a U.S. field hospital in Kuwait for specialist treatment.

The ministry has said it would not provide any further details until the next of kin had been informed but it is investigating whether the incidents are related.

British Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon told the House of Commons the UK's role in Iraq would "not be deflected by the enemies of peace."

An earlier statement from the MoD said: "We very much regret to confirm that in one incident, six British personnel have been killed.

"In the second incident, troops from 1 Para patrolling south of Al Amarah came under fire."

The team of paras traveling in two vehicles were attacked Tuesday morning from a number of gunmen using rocket propelled grenades, heavy machine-guns and rifle fire.

The troops returned fire and called for assistance and a troop of Scimitar vehicles, a Chinook helicopter and extra troops were sent and also came under fire, said Hoon.

The MoD statement added: "The patrol took one casualty and two vehicles were destroyed. In responding to the incident, an RAF Chinook helicopter carrying a Quick Reaction Force came under fire as it landed. Seven personnel on board the helicopter were wounded, three of them seriously."

The bodies of six members of the Royal Military Police were recovered from Al Majar Al Kabir during the afternoon.

Hoon warned against speculation with regards the attacks and cautioned against reaching wider conclusions about the security situation in southern Iraq.

The British deaths were the first since early May, when a soldier was killed in a traffic accident. Baghdad had fallen to the U.S.-led coalition in April.

British soldiers have been patrolling the southern city of Basra without helmets and flak jackets.

British casualties have been light compared to the U.S., where almost a soldier has been killed everyday since the declared end to the war on May 1.

Nineteen U.S. troops have been killed in hostile action with another 37 dead in what are described as non-hostile incidents, the Pentagon said.

In the latest string of attacks, a U.S. solider was wounded and three Iraqis were killed Tuesday in a small arms firefight at a checkpoint in Ramadi, U.S. Central Command said in a statement. Two Iraqis were wounded, it added.

In al Daura, east of Baghdad, a military police vehicle was hit by a grenade Monday, but bounced off and exploded under a civilian vehicle, wounding two Iraqis.

And in Fallujah, considered by coalition forces to be a hotbed of anti-U.S. resentment and home to some remaining supporters of former president Saddam Hussein's regime, a group of Iraqis fired rocket-propelled grenades at U.S. troops protecting a power plant Monday, witnesses said. (Full Story)

U.S. forces have launched Operation Desert Scorpion to crack down on such attacks, confiscating weapons, including two AK-47s, one rocket-propelled grenade, three pistols, two rifles and 100 hand grenades.


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