Iraqi minister captured as Basra flares

Saddam Hussein’s former interior minister has been captured, the US military announced, while British troops clashed with Iraqi civlians in Basra.

British soldiers fired rubber bullets at protestors
British soldiers fired rubber bullets at protestors

“Mahmoud Diyab al-Ahmed, number 29 on the coalition’s list of most wanted government officials, is now under custody of coalition forces,” Central Command said in a statement on Saturday.

“The former Iraqi Minister of Interior surrendered to coalition forces yesterday.”

The US military had already announced his capture in July, but it was not immediately clear whether this was the same person.

A US military spokesman said he was unable to explain why the announcement of his arrest appears to have been made for a second time.

Before Saturday’s announcement, the United States had reported 37 of the people on a list of 55 most Iraqis had surrendered or been captured or killed. That total included the minister.

Deposed President Saddam Hussein, who tops the list, remains at large though his two sons Uday and Qusay have been killed.

Grenade attacks

One US soldier was killed in a grenade attack on a forces post near al-Ramadi on Saturday, Aljazeera reported.

Eyewitnesses said that the grenade attack in Heet, near the city of al-Ramadi in western Iraq, had also wounded another soldier. 

“The British have been here four months and things have not improved.”

Basra resident, Abu Hassan

Meanwhile, while British forces struggled to contain riots in Basra, an attacker threw a hand grenade at a British military vehicle, causing it to burst into flames, eyewitnesses told Aljazeera.

No casualties were reported.

Basra riots

British occupation troops in riot gear deployed in Basra to quell spreading disturbances sparked by shortages of fuel and power in Iraq’s second city.

In one instance, witnesses said soldiers fired in the air to keep back a crowd at a petrol station. Another witness said the British fired baton rounds at a crowd, wounding two Iraqis.

British military spokesman said several soldiers received minor injuries from stones and confirmed that a military vehicle had been set alight. He had no information on Iraqi injuries or casualties.

“We put crowd control measures in place at petrol stations to try to restore law and order,” spokesman Jonathan Spencer said. “The situation is beginning to calm down.” 

British soldiers carry away a wounded comrade

British soldiers carry away a wounded comrade

Witnesses said angry Iraqis threw stones, burned tyres and attacked cars registered in nearby Kuwait, whose owners local people accuse of buying up diesel oil smuggled across the desert.

“The British have been here four months and things have not improved. Now we have shortages in everything,” said one man, Abu Hassan.

The shortage of diesel oil has meant residents, businesses and hospitals have difficulties running their generators.
Iraqi Islamists release tape

A hitherto unknown group of Iraqi Islamists called for guerrilla attacks against occupying forces in Iraq, saying in a videotape broadcast on Saturday it was the only way to free the country.

The five masked men shown on the tape, which was broadcast by Dubai-based Al-Arabiya television, said they belonged to the White Flags, Muslim Youth and Army of Muhammad organisations.

“We want to tell other organisations that guerrilla warfare is the only way to free the country and we want to say that foreign troops who were sent here must be attacked to prove to the world that we are against occupation,” said one of the men.

Source: News Agencies

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