Life is still hard in Basra
British military authorities have begun an investigation into an incident in which a 14-year-old boy was shot dead by a British soldier.
British Army spokesman in Basra Captain Crispian Cuss said initial inquiries showed the incident was "in no way malicious".
He said: "It appears to have been a very unfortunate accident rather than anything else."
It appeared a weapon had gone off during a struggle between the boy, Ali Salim, and a soldier.
The boy had been playing near a school used to house soldiers of the Queen's Dragoon Guards in Basra on Saturday.
A doctor at Basra's teaching hospital, who treated the boy, told the BBC he had suffered a single bullet wound to the abdomen and died several hours later.
There are a number of different reports
He said the weapon had been fired from very close range.
On Monday night, a Ministry of Defence (MoD) spokeswoman said: "During a routine patrol of the
7th Armoured Brigade, there was an incident when one of several youths was involved in a struggle to take a weapon from a soldier and a shot was discharged
injuring one of them."
She said a Royal Military Police investigation was
under way to establish what had happened.
It is unclear whether the boy was joking or was making a serious attempt to take the gun.
A friend, who said he had seen the shooting, alleged the boy was joking and talking with a soldier guarding the barracks when the soldier opened fire without provocation.
An MoD spokesman said: "There are a number of different reports. Until our investigation is completed we cannot really guess which is the right one."
The boy's death comes at a sensitive time for coalition forces.
US soldiers in Falluja killed 15 people after two demonstrations recently, saying protesters had opened fire on them.
They also killed a similar number in Mosul in similar circumstances.
The incidents have exacerbated anti-American sentiment in the areas and prompted demonstrations.