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Basra residents protest against British operation

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Basra residents protest against British operation

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Residents of Basra have staged a demonstration against the actions of British forces.

Iraq´s premier is to meet the British defence minister in London against the backdrop of rising tensions over a controversial rescue mission in the southern Iraqi city.

Baghdad and Downing Street say there is no crisis in relations, but the meeting will be overshadowed by the British operation on Monday to free two undercover soldiers. Troops used an armoured vehicle to storm a prison in Basra to find the soldiers who commanders believed were in danger. The mission was launched after rioting which local officials say began when the two disguised officers fired on a police patrol. At least two Iraqis were killed in the violence. The incidents have further strained relations between British troops and locals. Tensions were already high over the recent arrests of militia members loyal to the radical Shi´ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. Since the fall of Saddam Hussein, British forces have enjoyed relatively good relations with the population under their control in southern Iraq.