Languages
Page last updated at 18:38 GMT, Saturday, 4 October 2003 19:38 UK

Troops clash with Iraqi soldiers

Two Iraqis have been shot dead in separate clashes between coalition troops and former members of the Iraqi army.

Aftermath of the clash in Baghdad
Protestors in Baghdad clashed with US troops and attacked stores
One man was killed and many others wounded during a confrontation in central Baghdad between US troops and former Iraqi soldiers.

And in the southern city of Basra, another Iraqi died in a similar clash with British forces.

Saturday's violence comes a day after a US soldier was killed in Baghdad when a patrol was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade and small arms fire.

The death of the soldier, from the 4th Infantry Division, brought to 88 the number of US soldiers killed in combat since 1 May, when President George W Bush declared the major conflict over.

Redundancy offer

Saturday's clash between US troops and thousands of former Iraqi soldiers occurred near a former military airport in central Baghdad where the Americans have a large base.

The former Iraqi soldiers said they had simply gathered to collect their redundancy pay.

We returned fire at those who fired at us
US military spokesman

However, a number of them broke away from the queue and charged US troops, hurling stones and other missiles.

Shots were exchanged, but there are conflicting reports as to who fired first.

A doctor at the hospital where casualties were taken said one protester had died from a gunshot wound to the head and about 25 others had been wounded, including two Iraqi policemen.

There was no confirmation from US command of the Iraqi casualties, although it said two of its own soldiers had been injured in the clash.

"We came to collect our wages, and we came peacefully," ex-soldier Adnan Faris told Reuters.

"We didn't do anything to provoke them. But they started hitting us with hosepipes and batons, and in the end they even started shooting."

Investigation

US Major Scott Patton said the Iraqis had fired on American troops, thrown thousands of stones and set fire to two police cars.

Iraqi republican guards
Once proud Iraqi soldiers are now resentful and unemployed
"We returned fire at those who fired at us," he said.

After the clash the protestors set cars alight and attacked stores that sell alcohol.

The Basra clash also started when former Iraqi soldiers collected their redundancy money from the coalition authorities.

The British army said one of its soldiers shot dead an armed Iraqi during an angry demonstration in Basra by hundreds of Iraqis.

Major Simon Routledge said a British soldier shot and killed an Iraqi holding a weapon after hearing gunfire.

The British troops also fired rubber bullets to disperse the crowd.

"This is a serious matter and we are investigating," said a spokesman.

New army

The Iraqi army was officially disbanded in May, leaving thousands of personnel suddenly unemployed.

After a series of violent protests, the Iraqi soldiers persuaded the US-led administration to pay them redundancy money - which is distributed to them on a daily basis.

In northern Iraq, nearly 700 recruits graduated from basic training on Saturday, to become the first battalion of a new Iraqi army.

The graduating troops took part in a passing-out parade in the town of Kirkush attended by the US administrator in Iraq, Paul Bremer, on Saturday.

The US administration has said it will pay $2bn to create a new 40,000-strong Iraqi army by the end of 2004.



video and audio news
The BBC's Jon Brain
"The killing prompted running battles between the army and the protestors"



RELATED INTERNET LINKS
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

PRODUCTS & SERVICES

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific