Monday, December 25, 2006

UK troops storm Iraqi police HQ


More than 1,000 UK troops have stormed the headquarters of an Iraqi police unit to rescue 127 prisoners, dozens of whom they had feared would be killed.
The forces demolished the Jamiat police station, which was the Serious Crimes Unit's base in Basra.

The British said the unit was suspected of murder and the rescued prisoners appeared to have been tortured.

However, Mohammed al Abadi, head of the city's council, said the raid was illegal and provocative.

He said the council had withdrawn co-operation with the military, saying they had not been informed of the operation and that it violated earlier agreements.

Major Charlie Burbridge, speaking on behalf of the British Army in Basra, insisted that the troops had prior political support from Iraq's prime minister, Nuri al-Malaki.

Meanwhile, US forces in Iraq have detained two Iranian envoys who were invited in by President Jalal Talabani.

A spokesman told the French news agency AFP that the president was unhappy with the arrests.

The Christmas Day raid on the police station took place at about 0200 local time (2300 GMT) and was a "very significant move" according to Maj Burbridge.

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