British diplomatic convoy attacked in Basra
A roadside bomb hit a convoy of vehicles Wednesday in the southern city of Basra, causing casualties. Officials in London denied initial reports that a British diplomatic convoy had come under attack.
Iraqi police Capt. Mushtaq Talib said four people were killed in the blast and that it struck a British diplomatic convoy. Talib said the victims nationalities were not known. Khudief Sabih, a schoolboy who claimed to have witnessed the attack, also said four people were killed.
But the Foreign Office in London challenged the police report.
"It wasn't a diplomatic convoy, and no British consulate or government staff were involved," said a spokesman, on condition of anonymity in line with government policy.
"The exact circumstances of the incident are being investigated," the spokesman said.
In Basra, British spokesman Darren Moss confirmed the bombing but said no military forces were targeted. He added that "the casualties have been evacuated to a medical center" but gave no further details.
The British Ministry of Defense confirmed it was investigating the incident and "that no British forces or other multinational forces were involved," according to a spokesman, also speaking on condition of anonymity because of government policy.
AP Television News videotape showed an overturned white SUV in a ravine next to a busy highway. Six British Army Land Rovers, together with Iraqi police cars and two civilian ambulances were parked nearby. British soldiers were seen loading a body from the SUV into a military ambulance.
Southern Iraq, where some 8,500 British troops are deployed, has been mostly calm since a U.S. and British forces occupied Iraq more than two years ago.
However, on July 16, a roadside bomb in Amarah killed three British soldiers and wounded two others. Two weeks later, two Britons, who worked for the security firm Control Risks Group, were killed when a roadside bomb exploded alongside a British diplomatic convoy in Basra.
Two British soldiers died Monday in a roadside bombing west of Basra, bringing to 95 the number of fatalities British forces have suffered since the war began.