US troop deaths top 1,900 in Iraq
Updated: 2005-09-20 22:05
Outside the jail, a melee broke out in the streets as demonstrators attacked the British armor with stones and Molotov cocktails. During the chaos, one British soldier could be seen scrambling for his life from a burning Warrior armored fighting vehicle and the rock-throwing mob.
Press Association reported that three British soldiers were hurt in the violence, but said none of the injuries was life-threatening. Iraqi authorities said three demonstrators were killed and 15 others wounded.
Lorimer said Monday's violence was blown out of proportion, noting the scene made for "graphic television viewing" but that "this was a small, unrepresentative crowd of about 200 to 300 in a city of 1.5 million."
Tensions have been mounting in Basra for some weeks.
On Friday, a local commander of al-Mahdi Army, a militia loyal to the radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, was arrested, prompting a demonstration by militiamen demanding his release.
On Sunday, an Iraqi journalist working for The New York Times was killed after men claiming to be police officers took him from his home, the newspaper said. Fakher Haider, 38, was found dead in a deserted area on the city's outskirts Monday, hands bound with at least one gunshot to the head, the Times reported.
Last month, freelance journalist Steven Vincent was killed after he wrote a column in the Times accusing Basra police of being infiltrated by Shiite militiamen. He was abducted and his body was discovered that night by a highway south of Basra. A senior British official said Islamic militants — and not Iraqi police — probably killed Vincent.