Official Basra refuses to cooperate with coalition forces

The authorities of the southern Iraqi city of Basra refuse to cooperate with the coalition forces until they receive an apology and compensation for a recent raid by British forces on a police station to release two soldiers.

"All regular meetings between the governorate and British troops have been cancelled and we will not allow British soldiers into the governorate building or any other public office in Basra," Nadim al-Jabiri, spokesman for the provincial governor in Basra, said.

British troops, who usually accompany Iraqi police on patrol, were not seen on the streets on Thursday.

The governing council met on Wednesday and decided to halt cooperation until three demands are met; an apology for what happened, a guarantee that it does not happen again, and compensation for damage caused during the operation.

British forces launched the raid on Monday to release two undercover soldiers from an elite squad who had been imprisoned after an Iraqi man had been shot dead in the city.

They rammed their way with armoured vehicles into a Basra police station where the two Britons were initially detained, and then raided a house nearby where they were reportedly being held by Shiite militiamen.

Monday's action triggered a riot when several hundred demonstrators attacked British forces besieging the police station in Basra.

Iraqi prime minister Ibrahim Jaafari on Wednesday tried to play down the incident insisting that it would not affect relations with Britain, the AKI reports.

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