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Last Updated: Monday, 28 November 2005, 14:03 GMT
Two Britons killed in Iraq attack
Pilgrims' minibus attacked in Iraq
The pilgrims were travelling to holy sites when they were attacked
Two Britons and an Iraqi have been killed in an attack by gunmen in Iraq after visiting holy sites.

The three were with three other Britons and another Iraqi in a minibus travelling to Baghdad airport.

The group were British Shia Muslims on a pilgrimage. The two men killed were fathers in their 40s from west London, their mosque said.

Meantime, hostage experts are hunting for a Briton abducted in Baghdad with three other westerners on Saturday.

A multi-national hostage team is trying to find Norman Kember, a retired professor in his 70s, who is an aid worker in Iraq.

The Britons killed in the separate attack were shot at when the minibus they were in neared a checkpoint in the Dora neighbourhood, Police Captain Talib Thamir told Associated Press.

The injured were taken to Baghdad's Yarmouk hospital.

The Dawoodi Bohra Mosque in Northolt, west London, told the BBC the two men killed belonged to its community.

They were said to be Asians of African origin who settled in Britain 30 years ago.

Survivor Z Jafferi
Survivor Zara Jafferti said the group had been in Iraq for five days

One of the survivors of the attack told BBC correspondent Caroline Hawley that as they travelled on a dual carriageway at about 40kmh, he heard what sounded like fireworks.

He said all the glass in the minibus shattered as they were shot at for about one minute.

They were heading to Baghdad airport for a flight to Dubai and eventually London.

Another survivor, Zara Jafferti, told reporters they had been in Iraq for five days, visiting the holy sites.

"We were just coming and all of a sudden we saw the shots. I immediately got down, and I don't know what I saw.

"I couldn't see anything. It was a fire."

A Foreign Office spokesman said: "Our consular and security staff are investigating the reports.

We hope British citizens will follow [Foreign Office travel advice], but we have no way of obliging British citizens to do so
Jack Straw
Foreign Secretary

"They have heard it could be two British nationals, but at this stage we know no more than that.

"The reports are being investigated."

Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said the government's advice was that UK citizens should not travel to Iraq.

"The only exceptions are where they are subject to proper security protection. That is clear, it's explicit.

"We hope British citizens will follow it, but we have no way of obliging British citizens to do so," Mr Straw added.

Pilgrims to the area visit the tomb of Hussein, a grandson of the Prophet Muhammed, in Karbala and another site in Najaf, said general secretary of the Muslim Council of Britain, Sir Iqbal Sacranie.

Between 5,000 and 10,000 mainly Shia community members make the pilgrimage from Britain every year, he added.


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