Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

48 Hours to Hand overIraqi Gunmen

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

48 Hours to Hand overIraqi Gunmen

Article excerpt

British forces today gave civilian leaders in a southern Iraqi town 48 hours to hand over the gunmen who killed six British military police.

The Red Caps were killed by Iraqi townspeople who were furious over civilian deaths during a demonstration against the Allies in Majar al-Kabir, witnesses said.

Prime Minister Tony Blair today paid tribute to the dead. The six Royal Military Police soldiers killed have been named as Lance-Corporal Benjamin John McGowan Hyde, from Northallerton; Corporal Simon Miller, from Tyne and Wear; Sergeant Simon Alexander Hamilton-Jewell, from Chessington; Corporal Russell Aston, from Swadlincote; Corporal Paul Graham Long, from Colchester; and Lance-Corporal Thomas Richard Keys, from Bala. They were based in Colchester, Essex, defence officials said. Army sources said they were from the 156 Provost Company, which is attached to 16 Air Assault Brigade.

British officials today demanded the Iraqi gunmen be handed over within 48 hours. According to Qassem Nimeh, an official in the mayor's office, the British did not say how they would respond if the attackers were not handed over before the 48-hour deadline.

Abbas Faddhel, an Iraqi policeman in the town, said the British soldiers shot dead four civilians during yesterday's protest outside the mayor's office.

The demonstrators had apparently been protesting against heavy-handed British tactics during a sweep of the area for heavy weapons.

"This angered the people because they went into women's rooms," said Abu Zahraa, a 30-year-old market trader.

One witness said British soldiers first fired rubber bullets - and then live ammunition - into the crowd.

Furious residents killed two Britons at the scene of the protest before chasing four others into a nearby police station and killing them after a two-hour gun battle, Faddhel said.

Eight more British soldiers were wounded, three of them seriously, in a second incident yesterday that also involved a fierce battle with Iraqi gunmen in the south of the country. …

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