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Last Updated: Saturday, 14 April 2007, 17:34 GMT 18:34 UK
UK forces kill Iraqi militiamen
British soldiers in Basra
The gunmen were laying bombs when they were killed
British forces have killed eight gunmen laying landmines in southern Iraq, local police have confirmed.

The operation took place in Basra on Friday night in the area where four soldiers and a translator were killed in a roadside bomb earlier this month.

The Ministry of Defence said it was not possible to directly link those killed last night with last week's bombs.

"However, these militiamen were intent upon launching exactly the same type of attack in the same area," he added.

The operation at 2240 local time was carried out by the 2nd Battalion Duke of Lancaster regiment on the outskirts of the Hyall Shuala district to the west of Basra city.

Two roadside bomb teams were hit as they laid devices, the MoD said.

Operations against rogue militia will therefore continue, especially so against their leadership and their weapons stocks but also, as in this case, against operatives
Lt Col Kevin Stratford-Wright

Police in Basra were unable to confirm the eight dead men were from the Mehdi Army, but other local sources claimed they were from the Shia militia, loyal to Moqtada al Sadr.

The police also said the British detained a local Mehdi Army commander during the operation.

Lt Col Kevin Stratford-Wright, military spokesman in Basra, said the multinational force "must be able to strike militia who seek to kill its soldiers, and who also intimidate the people of Basra with death threats".

He said: "Operations against rogue militia will therefore continue, especially so against their leadership and their weapons stocks but also, as in this case, against operatives.

"Increasingly, over the coming weeks and months, these operations will become Iraqi-led and executed."

Second Lt Joanna Yorke Dyer, 24, Cpl Kris O'Neill, 27, Pte Eleanor Dlugosz, 19, and Kingsman Adam James Smith, 19, were attacked on 5 April near Basra.

All four soldiers died when a Warrior armoured vehicle returning from patrol near Basra was attacked.

A Kuwaiti interpreter was also killed in the blast, which seriously injured a fifth soldier and left a 3ft-deep crater in the road.




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British troops on patrol in Basra





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