28/08/2003

British soldier killed and another wounded in Iraq firefight

A British soldier was killed and another wounded in an incident in Ali al-Sharqi in southern Iraq yesterday.

The soldiers were part of a convoy which was stopped by a large group of Iraqi protesters. When the soldiers dismounted to disperse the crowd they were attacked with small arms and rocket-propelled grenades.

One soldier was shot and died and a second was wounded in the hand.

It has been reported that 10 people were arrested by troops after the incident.

The pair were serving with the 52nd Lowland Brigade, and were attached to the 1st King's Own Scottish Borders. Their convoy was returning from carrying out a raid in Ali al-Gharbi.

This latest incident brings to 50 the number of British servicemen who have died since the beginning of hostilities on March 20.

Elsewhere, The United Nations refugee agency has postponed the first repatriation convoy of Iraqi refugees from Iran pending a security review after last week’s terrorist attack against UN headquarters in Baghdad.

The convoy of 100 returnees, a tiny fraction of the more than 200,000 Iraqi refugees in Iran – by far the largest group of Iraqi refugees in the world – had been expected to leave from Ashrafi refugee camp in Iran's southwestern Khuzestan province some time this week for Basra, Iraq's second largest city.

"In the aftermath of last week's bomb attack on the UN in Baghdad, the convoy has been postponed while the world body reviews the security situation in Iraq," the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said.

The agency, which has already organized two small repatriation convoys from Saudi Arabia, warned against any large-scale refugee returns this year because of the lack of security and infrastructure even before last week's terrorist bombing.

(gmcg)

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