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Last Updated: Tuesday, 26 December 2006, 13:58 GMT
Discussions to follow Basra raid
Explosion of Jamiat police station (Russ Nolan/British Army/PA Wire)
The police station was demolished
British officials are to explain to the authorities in Basra why coalition troops demolished the headquarters of the city's Serious Crime Unit.

UK forces say Iraqis are still supporting them despite anger over the raid on a police station, and discussions will follow.

A British officer said the destruction of the base has made Basra safer.

Mohammed al Abadi, head of the city's council, had said the raid was illegal and threatened to stop co-operation.

He said local officials had not been informed of the operation and that it violated earlier agreements to move the prisoners without military action.

Map showing Basra

And Basra police commander Brigadier General Ali Ibrahim said: "This storming operation is illegal and violates human rights.

"We think that what the operation sought to achieve is very simple and could have been settled by Iraqi troops."

But the UK Foreign Office said there had been no formal announcement to withdraw co-operation with the British.

A spokesman conceded some elements of the council were unhappy but said the UK and the Iraqi government would explain the reasons for them.

'Iraqi backing'

Major Charles Burbridge, speaking on behalf of the British Army in Basra, said the 127 prisoners rescued from Jamiat police station had been tortured.

And the raid had the backing of regional and national Iraqi politicians.

Prisoners

He said: "Some members of the provincial council conducted a press conference yesterday where they criticised what we did and how we did it.

"But at the same time the MoD up in Baghdad had a similar press conference stating that the provincial council's facts were wrong.

"We still believe that we've done the right thing and I think it's important to acknowledge the fact that what we do here is never going to be overwhelmingly popular and if we don't get any criticism then this isn't democracy."

British forces raided and demolished the unit's headquarters, and rescued prisoners they feared would be killed.

SAS rescue

A Ministry of Defence spokesman said hundreds of seized files and computers were taken as evidence.

The raid came three days after seven Iraqi officers were arrested by UK troops on suspicion of corruption and leading a death squad at the unit.

In September 2005, two SAS soldiers were rescued from Jamiat after being accused of shooting dead a local policeman and wounding another.




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British army response to criticism of the raid





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