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Last Updated: Sunday, 24 August, 2003, 20:42 GMT 21:42 UK
UK ambush victims named
Major Matthew Titchener
Major Titchener, 32, was married with one child
British troops hunting the killers of three Royal Military Police who died in an ambush in the southern Iraqi city of Basra are said to be pursuing a number of leads.

Their investigation continued as military commanders said troops would not be forced to remain inside their base.

The dead soldiers, who were all in their 30s, have been named as Major Matthew Titchener, Warrant Officer Colin Wall and Corporal Dewi Pritchard.

In a statement on Sunday night the family of Corporal Pritchard paid tribute to his bravery, but also raised concerns about the safety of soldiers in Iraq.

They said: "There remains at this early stage many unanswered questions concerning personal protection and security arrangements for British troops in Basra."

As tributes were paid to the three men, whose bodies are due to be flown home within the next three days, their commander said the killers would be found.

His tragic death in Basra robs his beloved wife Tracey of a husband and his children Kira and Ethan of a father
Pritchard family

Brigadier Bill Moore, head of the 19 Mechanised Brigade, said "one or two" people had been detained for questioning.

He said: "We are moving everything that we have to find the people who killed our three colleagues and bring them to justice."

Brigadier Moore said that on Saturday part of Basra had been closed off and during the night a number of operations took place to follow up on intelligence leads.

The troops had been driving away from their base on a routine patrol earlier on Saturday when, according to witnesses, gunmen in a red pick-up truck opened fire and threw a grenade at them.

Warrant Officer Colin Wall
Warrant Officer Wall leaves three children

The family of 35-year-old Corporal Pritchard, from Bridgend in south Wales, paid tribute to him as "brave, professional and proud".

They said: "His tragic death in Basra robs his beloved wife Tracey of a husband and his children Kira and Ethan of a father."

Dewi had only returned to Basra last Friday having been home on leave for six days, the family added.

Major Titchener, 32, from Southport in Merseyside, was married with one child.

Warrant Officer Wall, 34, from County Durham, was married with one child, and had two children from a previous marriage.

23 Aug: Three Royal Military Police officers die in Basra city centre ambush
14 Aug: Captain David Jones killed in bomb attack on ambulance in Basra
24 June: Six Royal Military Police officers apparently killed by angry locals while searching for weapons in Majar al-Kabir, north of Basra

Brigadier Maurice Nugent, head of the RMP, said: "The thoughts of all past and present members of the Royal Military Police are with the families."

A book of condolence has been opened at the regimental headquarters, Roussillon Barracks in Chichester, West Sussex.

The killings are a further blow for the RMP, which also lost six soldiers in an attack in the nearby town of Majar al-Kabir in June.

All nine victims had been helping to train the Iraq's civilian police force.

'Immediate questions'

Shadow defence secretary Bernard Jenkin said the time had come to re-evaluate the Army's strategy in Iraq.

"The immediate questions you ask are about short term considerations like have they got the right equipment? Are there enough of them?" he said.

The MoD said protection measures were constantly monitored and changes would be made if necessary.

The latest deaths follow a bomb attack on an ambulance in the city on 14 August, which killed Captain David Jones.

The BBC's Clarence Mitchell
"All three soldiers who died were family men"

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