Blair in Iraq as eight die in attacks
British Prime Minister Tony Blair paid a surprise visit to Iraq to meet troops and hold talks about the country's future following last week's election. Amid tight security, Blair arrived Thursday morning in the southern city of Basra on his fourth visit since the US-led invasion of March 2003. He said creating a democracy would deal a "body blow to terrorists" and enable some UK forces to be withdrawn.
"The (Iraqi) people want democracy and if we get a democracy functioning it'll make the region and the world safer."
Blair last visited Iraq on December 21 2004 when he went for the first time to Baghdad.
Meanwhile, at least eight people, including four policemen, were killed in attacks Thursday and three women who worked in the highly-protected Green Zone were kidnapped, security sources said. In a firefight, which took place in the Iraqi capital's southern Dura neighbourhood four policemen shot dead.
South of Baghdad in Iskandariyah, four civilians died and one was injured when two minibuses were came under gunfire on a highway, a police spokesman said.
In Al-Sadiyah, southern Baghdad, gunmen kidnapped three women who worked inside the Green Zone, which houses Iraqi government offices and the US and British embassies.