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Last Updated:  Monday, 7 April, 2003, 18:15 GMT 19:15 UK
Blair 'regrets' execution comments
Sapper Luke Allsopp (l) and Staff Sergeant Simon Cullingworth
The soldiers were members of a bomb disposal team
The armed forces minister has spoken of Tony Blair's regret at the hurt he caused when he said two British soldiers had been executed.

Sapper Luke Allsopp, 24, and Staff Sergeant Simon Cullingworth, 36, both from Essex, were killed in Iraq last month.

Sapper Allsopp's family reacted angrily to Mr Blair's words, saying the Army had told them the men had died in combat.

Armed Forces Minister Adam Ingram, MP for East Kilbride, told BBC Radio Scotland that the issue would "weigh heavily" on the prime minister's mind.

"It may not have been well handled, I issued a regret at the language used," he said.

"But it was not intended to cause hurt".

'Not propaganda'

The two men, both from a bomb disposal unit of the Royal Engineers, were caught up in enemy fire near Al Zubayr, outside Iraq's second city of Basra.

Mr Ingram denied Mr Blair's words had been "for propaganda purposes".

"It certainly caused hurt to those two families, and the regret has been issued.

"But I know my prime minister. I know how sensitive a human being he is.

"This will weigh heavily on him, the fact he's done that, and he'll find a way to deal with this."

However, Mr Ingram rejected calls for an apology from Mr Blair.

"The prime minister will make it up in his own time and not as a result of badgering from the media."

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