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9/22/2017 12:11:25 AM
Posted: 9/19/2005 8:18:56 PM EDT
Nothing like taking a Challenger tank to bust out a few guys. The Brits don't fuck around.


BASRA, Iraq — British armored vehicles broke down the walls of the central jail in this southern city Monday and freed two British soldiers, allegedly undercover commandos arrested for shooting two Iraqi policemen, witnesses said. But London said the two men were released as a result of negotiations.

The different versions of events came on a chaotic day that raised questions about how much sovereignty Iraqi authorities really were granted when the U.S.-led Coalition Provision Authority (search) handed over power to an interim Iraqi government in the summer of 2004.

The arrests of the two British soldiers Monday appeared to have been the first real and public test of how far that sovereignty extends. There have been no known incidents of Iraqi authorities arresting U.S. soldiers operating in the Iraqi heartland.

Mohammed al-Waili (search), the governor of Basra province, condemned the British for raiding the prison, an act he called "barbaric, savage and irresponsible"

"A British force of more than 10 tanks backed by helicopters attacked the central jail and destroyed it. This is an irresponsible act," al-Waili said, adding that the British force had spirited the prisoners away to an unknown location.

Aquil Jabbar, an Iraqi television cameraman who lives across the street from the Basra jail, said about 150 Iraqi prisoners fled as British commandos stormed inside and rescued their comrades.

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