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Last Updated: Monday, 25 August, 2003, 15:55 GMT 16:55 UK
Basra security fears after ambush
British soldier
British troops may review their approach
A senior British police officer helping the force in Iraq has said the security situation is getting 'more difficult', following the killing of three British soldiers.

The assistant chief constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland, Stephen White, said the current security situation was "not good".

Three Royal Military Police died in an ambush in Basra on Saturday and have been named as Major Matthew Titchener, Warrant Officer Colin Wall and Corporal Dewi Pritchard.

The killings came after a string of attacks on British soldiers this month, and two days of rioting in Basra over power and fuel shortages.

Mr White, speaking from Basra, said there was a lack of confidence in the local police and it was the responsibility of the coalition forces to address that.

He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme the situation seemed to be getting "more difficult".

Corporal Dewi Pritchard

"I have a straightforward philosophy: I like police officers to be police officers and soldiers to be soldiers.

"And clearly to reform the police we need police expertise and police resources, but we need the assistance from coalition forces."

Mr White said his first aim would be to secure agreement on what type of police service was needed, and then on how to establish it, and what resources would be needed to put into it.

The soldiers were travelling in a civilian four-wheel drive at the time and the family of Corporal Pritchard has raised concerns about the safety of soldiers in Iraq.

'War on terror'

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

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

Speaking on the same programme, the shadow defence secretary Bernard Jenkin compared the security situation in Iraq to Northern Ireland at the height of the Troubles.

This attack will force the British troops to look again at how they conduct their daily operations
The BBC's Susannah Price, in Baghdad

"We are facing a situation which is increasing like Northern Ireland during its worst period.

"The determination of terrorist elements to disrupt any good that is happening in that country is very evident.

"And worse than Northern Ireland, these terrorists are prepared to kill themselves in attacks not just on the occupying forces but also neutral targets like the UN and Red Cross."

Mr Jenkin said the international community had to realise that what was happening in Iraq was part of the "international war against terrorism".

Tributes paid Tributes were paid on Monday to the three men who died in the weekend attack.

Doris Jones, of Darlington, a neighbour of Warrant Officer Colin Wall, 34, said: "He would do anything for you. He was such a nice friend.

"It is such a waste of a young man. He was an absolutely splendid family man."

Mr Wall and his wife, Patricia, had an 11-month-old son, and Mr Wall had two children from a previous marriage.

Major Matthew Titchener's wife Raqual, who is expecting their second child, said her husband, aged 32, was a "perfect husband and a brilliant dad".

"He died doing a job he was proud of and was professional to the very end," she said.

While a spokesman for Tracey Pritchard and children Kira and Ethan, described 35-year-old Corporal Dewi Pritchard as "a brave, professional and proud Territorial Army military policeman who served his country to his best".

Corporal Pritchard is believed to be the first TA soldier killed in combat in Iraq since the conflict began.

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