Four British soldiers were wounded after they were fired on with handguns and rocket-propelled grenades, the US military said today.
The soldiers were wounded on Friday in Qalah Salih, about 25 miles south of Amarah, after a crowd of residents gathered around a convoy of coalition vehicles and troops who had arrested a man thought to have fired on them earlier in the day with an RPG.
“The patrol returned fire after receiving fire from heavy machine guns and a rocket-propelled grenade,” a British Ministry of Defence spokeswoman said.
“They were extracted by a quick reaction force and whilst the incident was happening, four of the patrol members received non-life threatening injuries.”
The names of the wounded soldiers weren’t released.
The British spokeswoman said the four were taken to the Shaibah military hospital near Basra. She did not identify the regiment involved.
It wasn’t known if any bystanders or civilians were injured or killed.
The incident happened in a sector commanded by British forces. There are some 8,000 British troops stationed in Iraq.
Britain was the United States’ main ally in the Iraq conflict, deploying around 46,000 soldiers for the war, and has lost 58 troops since the start of hostilities.
Some 410 Danish troops are based near Qurnah, between Qalah Salih and the city of Basra.
Southern Iraq, dominated by Shi’ites, has not had the anti-coalition guerrilla violence that has plagued Baghdad and mainly-Sunni central Iraq.
But Basra and other southern towns have seen killings and violence blamed on local rivalries and revenge attacks on former Saddam backers.