Tensions grow in Basra as British forces clash with locals
A British military helicopter apparently was hit by a missile Saturday and crashed in Basra, triggering a confrontation in which happy Iraqis pelted British soldiers with stones, hurled firebombs and shouted slogans in support of the Iraqi resistance.
Iraqi police said four British crew members died in the crash in the southern city, and four Iraqi adults and a child were killed during the ensuing melee when Shiite gunmen exchanged fire with British forces. About 30 civilians were injured.
Police Capt. Mushtaq Khazim said the helicopter went down in a vacant lot between two houses after it was struck by a shoulder-fired missile.
According the AP, British forces with armored vehicles rushed to the site and were met by a hail of stones from a crowd of at least 250 people. At least three armored vehicles were set on fire, witnesses said.
Calm returned by nightfall as Iraqi authorities imposed a curfew and hundreds of Iraqi police and soldiers set up checkpoints and patrolled the streets, locals said. Sporadic rocket fire could be heard throughout Basra, Iraq's second largest city.
Tensions have been rising in southern Iraq. Three Polish soldiers were wounded by a bomb Saturday in the mostly Shiite city of Diwaniyah.
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