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British civilian arrested in Iraq

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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- A British civilian and nine Iraqis have been arrested by Iraq's border security force, a British military spokesman in the southern city of Basra told CNN Tuesday.

The spokesman could not confirm the time, location or circumstances of the arrest, but an Iraqi police official in the central city of Najaf told CNN that "10 suspected terrorists" were arrested near the Saudi border on Monday, noting that among them was a British national.

Col. Thamer Kamel with the Iraqi border guard in Najaf said a British national by the name of Colin Peter was arrested around 8 p.m. (12 noon ET) Monday along with nine Iraqis on a highway between Anbar and Najaf.

Peter claimed to be a contractor, but his passport did not support his claim, Kamel said. The group, traveling in three GMC Suburbans, was carrying machine guns and GPS satellite technology.

According to Kamel, Peter is being held by the border guard, pending a response from the British embassy.

British embassy officials in Baghdad said they could not confirm the report at this time.

In London, a spokesman with the British Foreign Office said: "We are aware of the reports that the Iraqis have arrested a British national. We are investigating the circumstances and we will have more details later on."

The arrest comes against the backdrop of heightened tensions between Shiite leaders in Basra and British forces.

The Governing Council in Basra cut ties with Multinational Forces after British troops freed two men that the council alleges were British undercover troops who killed an Iraqi civilian and beat a policeman.

CNN's Mohammed Tawfeeq and Kevin Flower contributed to this report.

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