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British Confirm Use Of Force In Al-Basrah Rescue

20 September 2005 (RFE/RL) -- The British government today confirmed that military force was used to free two soldiers who had been arrested by Iraqi police in the southern port of Al-Basrah.

A British military spokesman in Al-Basrah said the Iraqi Interior Ministry in Baghdad had "ordered the release" of the two men, but the local police in Al-Basrah "ignored" the command.

The spokesman said the British Army then had given orders "to enter the police station" where the men were believed to be held. He said the army had information that the captives had been handed over to local militia and that their "lives were in danger."

The British soldiers were found not to be in the police station, but had been transferred to a house in Al-Basrah from which they were freed.

The incident sparked violent protests in Al-Basrah during which army vehicles were set ablaze and troops pelted with stones and petrol bombs.

(Compiled from agency reports)

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