They just got a different tool to use than we do: They kill innocent lives to achieve objectives. That's what they do. And they're good. They get on the TV screens and they get people to ask questions about, well, you know, this, that or the other. I mean, they're able to kind of say to people: Don't come and bother us, because we will kill you. Bush - Joint News Conference with Blair - 28 July '06

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Basra: Rockets fired at UK/US consulates. Arrest warrant for 'SAS' renewed

AP/usatoday: Basra judge renews arrest warrant for British soldiers

An Iraqi judge said on Saturday he had renewed arrest warrants for two British soldiers who were rescued from jail early this week by troops using armor to crash through the prison walls.

The violence infuriated local Iraqi police and government officials, and tensions remained high in Basra on Saturday. Rockets were fired at two buildings housing British officials, police said. Most of them missed their mark, and no British officials were hurt. However, two of the rockets hit nearby homes and wounded an Iraqi civilian, police said.

The two British soldiers were arrested by Iraqi authorities on Monday after allegedly shooting two Iraqi policemen who tried to detain them. One of the policemen reportedly was killed. The two British soldiers, operating undercover, were subsequently taken into custody.

A British armored patrol then surrounded the jail where the two were held, setting off a riot in Basra, Iraq's second largest city and the southern hub of the country's oil industry. Angry residents attacked the British armor with firebombs and pelted soldiers with stones as they jumped from the burning vehicles.

Later Monday, British armored vehicles crashed through the prison walls in an operation to rescue the two soldiers. They were subsequently found in a nearby house in the custody of militiamen, Britain said.

Basra authorities said the operation violated Iraqi sovereignty, and the governor ordered all government employees to stop cooperating with the British, who have 8,500 troops in the Shiite Muslim-dominated region.

Judge Raghib al-Mudhafar, chief of the Basra Anti-Terrorism Court, said Saturday that he reissued homicide arrest warrants for the two soldiers on Thursday.

But the British government said its troops are not legally bound by the warrants.

"There is no legal basis for the issue of this arrest warrant. Rather, we have a legal obligation to investigate the allegations ourselves. That is being done as we speak," a spokesman at the British defense ministry said in London on Saturday.

"We will continue to work with the Iraqis on the inquiry which the Iraqi government has begun" into the clash, he said in an interview. He spoke on condition of anonymity, as spokesmen at British ministries often do, in keeping with a government regulation.

In Basra early Saturday morning, several rockets were fired at the British and American consulates in the city, but both fell in a nearby field, hurting no one, said police Capt. Mushtaq Khazim. Also, three rockets were fired at the Shat al-Arab hotel, the headquarters of the British army in Basra, he said. One rocket hit the building, without causing casualties. The two others hit nearby private homes, wounding an Iraqi civilian, Khazim said. He said it was not clear who had fired the rockets. Read more

BBC Worldservice radio [UK? you need a digital tuner] reported that the Basra authorities have said, I'm paraphrasing, that whilst UK troops do indeed have a get-out-of-jail-card this particular colonial apparatus does not necessarily apply because the Iraqis have seen no proof that the alleged killers were British. Valiant effort - if the UK had any time at all for the protestations of foul-play emanating from Basra they might give this some attention - alas the UK couldn't really give a stuff - as the foreign office said recently - 'the demand for an apology is a local issue and not a reflection of the feelings of the Iraqi prime minister'.

The more the UK loses control of the situation the more it becomes clear that we really still are the arrogant and ruthless colonial power of old.