Tuesday, June 24, 2003

Six British Soldiers

Treachery at the Iranian Border

Six British soldiers were killed and eight wounded in firefights with unidentified persons in the town of Majar al-Kabir, just 40 miles from the Iranian border. In the first incident, "Defense Secretary Geoffrey Hoon told Parliament in London that the British soldiers military police on a mission to train Iraqi police were apparently killed in a police station in the town." Significantly, there was no mention of Iraqi police casualties and no mention of a rescue attempt by British forces.

Elsewhere in the same town, a "large number" of Iraqi gunmen opened fire on a British patrol Tuesday with rocket-propelled grenades, heavy machine guns and rifles, Hoon said. The British returned fire, and one soldier was wounded in the fight.

A rapid reaction force, including Scimitar light tanks and a Chinook CH-47 helicopter, came to help the ground troops but also came under fire, Hoon said. Seven people on board the helicopter were wounded, three of them seriously, the government said.

Hoon said commanders were investigating whether the deaths and the ambush were connected.

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