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Last Updated: Sunday, 14 May 2006, 17:28 GMT 18:28 UK
Two British soldiers die in Iraq
British soldiers in Iraq (generic)
Routine patrols have long faced the risk of roadside bombs
Two British soldiers have died after a roadside bomb attack in southern Iraq.

The soldiers, from the 2nd Battalion Royal Anglian Regiment, were on routine patrol in an armoured Land Rover just outside Basra when the device exploded.

A third soldier was injured in the same incident at 2345 local time on Saturday, the Ministry of Defence said.

Defence Secretary Des Browne said: "My deepest sympathies and thoughts are with their families and friends at this very difficult time."

The next of kin of all three soldiers have been informed.

The deaths bring to 111 the number of British military personnel killed in operations in Iraq since 2003.

Last weekend five UK military personnel were killed in a helicopter crash in Basra, including the first British servicewoman to die in action.

Training role

In the latest incident, a roadside bomb exploded as the patrol approached a bridge just north of Basra.

BBC correspondent Jim Muir said the bomb was detonated by a wire, rather than electronically, making it impossible to counter using radio-jamming techniques.

Let's not forget we are in Iraq to make things better and to set the conditions where Iraq can become self-reliant, prosperous and peaceful
Lt Col Richard Eaton

A British military helicopter took the casualties to the military hospital at Shaibah Logistics Base, a MoD spokesman said.

The injured soldier was reported to be in a serious but not critical condition.

The MoD said the 2nd Battalion Royal Anglian Regiment has been based at Ternhill, Shropshire, since 2005.

Its recruits came from Leicestershire, Northamptonshire, Lincolnshire and Bedfordshire.

The regiment's role in Iraq included the training of police, army and customs.

British Army spokesman Lt Col Richard Eaton said the soldiers in Iraq were professionals and recognised their role was to help the locals.

"We mourn but we then have to pick ourselves up and get on with the job in hand," he told the BBC.

"Let's not forget we are in Iraq to make things better and to set the conditions where Iraq can become self-reliant, prosperous and peaceful."

Basra's governor, Mohammed al-Waeli, said there were differing points of views among the residents of Basra but most supported the British presence.

"The vast majority think that the British forces should build good Iraqi security services and contribute to improving their efficiency - in addition to helping the establishment of public services projects," he said.

Last week, authorities in Basra agreed to formally resume co-operation with the British Army after relations had soured following a series of flare-ups.

Elsewhere in Iraq on Sunday, two bodyguards died in an attack on the Iraqi foreign minister's convoy during a series of explosions around Baghdad.

Another 12 people died when at least six bombs detonated across the Iraqi capital in a series of apparent attacks on police patrols, officials said.

See British troops on patrol in Basra


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