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Monday, September 19, 2005
  So much for the Brits superior local relations
'Prison breakout was our last resort' - World - Times Online: "WHEN army commanders witnessed a mob converging on Basra’s main prison threatening revenge on two British soldiers imprisoned inside, they dared not leave the men in Iraqi police custody overnight.

A rescue mission was hastily put together to free the undercover soldiers without causing injury to the local police inside. Armoured vehicles had already sealed off the roads leading to the police headquarters to keep away protesters and prevent reinforcements reaching their Iraqi colleagues locked inside.

After a day of worsening violence that reportedly left two Iraqis dead, three British soldiers seriously injured with burns and dozens of local demonstrators hurt, senior commanders realised that a prison breakout was provocative.

One military source said: “We believed we had no other option.” He said that the reason for the operation was “the safety of our two soldiers, which was our priority from the outset. The ferocity of the earlier clashes showed how determined some local groups were to get their hands on these two men.”

Senior officers are sure the mob was being orchestrated by insurgent leaders in Basra who were demanding the release of three influential figures from their militia. Basra’s police chief is said to have claimed that his own force has been infiltrated by militiamen."
 
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