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Last Updated: Friday, 5 November, 2004, 14:48 GMT
Relatives' anger over Iraq deaths
Paul Lowe (right) pictured with his brother Craig during a training exercise
Paul Lowe (right) pictured with his brother Craig during an exercise
Relatives of two Black Watch soldiers killed by a suicide bomber have spoken out against the conflict in Iraq.

Three Fife men - Sgt Stuart Gray, 31, Pte Paul Lowe, 19, and Pte Scott McArdle, 22 - died near Falluja.

Pte Lowe's 18-year-old brother Craig said his family opposed the war - and that Paul thought the regiment should no longer have been in Iraq.

The "devastated" uncle of Pte McArdle attacked the UK and US leaders for sending troops into a "death trap".

Martin McArdle described it as US President George Bush's war and said he hoped Prime Minister Tony Blair could live with himself.

But he said: "They were prepared to defend their country but not to go and fight other countries' wars."

Pte Scott McArdle
Pte Scott McArdle was a rifleman
Speaking outside the family home in Glenrothes, he added: "We are devastated. It's like a bad dream, like we're just going to wake up and it has not happened."

Craig Lowe said that the loss of his brother had not yet sunk in.

The teenager, who has himself recently returned to the family home in Kelty after serving in Iraq, said his brother lived for his job in the army.

"I don't think he thought about the dangers, he just kept his chin up," he said.

Craig added: "I think they should just get them all out of there now because if not we are going to lose a lot more than this."

He said his brother thought it was a war "which nobody knows why it was started or what it was done for".

Craig Lowe speaks to reporters
He didn't think he should be there because the regiment had already done their time over there
Craig Lowe
Brother
"He didn't think he should be there because the regiment had already done their time over there," he said.

The family felt that the UK government had sent the Black Watch into a more dangerous part of Iraq to help the US president.

The Army released a statement on behalf of Mary Gray, the mother of Sgt Stuart Gray, who said she was "deeply shocked" by her son's death.

Her sadness was "tinged with pride in a much-loved son who was a member of his local regiment".

Brothers-in-arms

The Black Watch's commanding officer, Lt Col James Cowan, extended the regiment's sympathy to the families of the dead men, who he described as "brothers-in-arms".

Sgt Stuart Gray
Sgt Stuart Gray's mother said she was "deeply shocked" by his death
Col Cowan said Sgt Gray was an experienced sergeant in the mortar platoon.

Pte McArdle was a rifleman in the elite reconnaissance platoon.

Pte Lowe was a talented drummer in the regiment's Pipes and Drums.

It is expected that the men's bodies will be flown back to the UK next week.

An Iraqi interpreter, who has not been named, was also killed in the attack and eight other soldiers were injured. The interpreter was due to have been married on the day he died.

Col Cowan said a suicide bomber blew up a vehicle in front of the soldiers at a road block on the eastern bank of the River Euphrates, near Falluja, on Thursday. The unit then came under sustained mortar fire.

I cannot understand why someone should seek to take political advantage about the tragic deaths of three brave men and their interpreter
Geoff Hoon
Defence Secretary

Scottish National Party leader Alex Salmond said the deaths were "an absolute tragedy for all involved".

"The bravery of those soldiers in Iraq contrasts sharply with the chicanery of the politicians who sent them there in the first place."

However, Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon said Mr Salmond's comments "demonstrate clearly there are no depths to which he will not sink".

"I cannot understand why someone should seek to take political advantage about the tragic deaths of three brave men and their interpreter," he said.

The anti-war MP George Galloway accused Tony Blair and his cabinet of "having blood on their hands" and refused to condemn those involved in the suicide bombing.

ATTACK ON THE BLACK WATCH
1 Warrior armoured fighting vehicle damaged by roadside bomb.
2 Second Warrior arrives to assist and comes under attack from rocket-propelled grenade. No-one hurt.
3 Black Watch troops return to recover vehicles and set up a cordon.
4 A car approaches one of the mobile checkpoints and occupant detonates bomb. Three soldiers and a civilian interpreter are killed.
5 Remaining troops come under mortar fire. Eight are wounded, but MoD says none seriously. All are rescued by helicopter.




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No time to grieve for Black Watch



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