Iraqis clash with British over protest killings

 

Hundreds of Iraqis hurled stones at British soldiers who waded in wieldingbatons in the south-eastern town of Amarah today, the day after clashes thatkilled six protesters and wounded at least 11.

Protesters demanding jobs tried to rush the troops guarding the town hall, butthe British beat them back from the compound, which also houses the US-ledcoalition and the 1st Battalion of Britain's Light Infantry.

Earlier, US officials acknowledged American soldiers shot and killed two Iraqipolicemen who failed to identify themselves in the northern town of Kirkuk.

The trouble in Amarah, south-east of Baghdad, started when hundredsof Iraqis gathered to protest that authorities had not kept a promise to givethem jobs.

They stoned the town hall, shattering windows.

As the protesters grew agitated, shots rang out from the crowd, a Britishmilitary spokeswoman said. At the same time, troops "received reports of smallexplosions in the crowd".

Iraqi police, believing they were under attack, opened fire into the crowd butdid not hit any protesters, she said. But witnesses said the police killed someprotesters.

British soldiers moved in with armoured vehicles to support the police, andprotesters hurled at least three explosive devices at them, she said.

Police Captain Ali Jihad Hussein later described the devices as home-madebombs made of cans packed with explosive powder and nails with candlewicklighters.

Today, demonstrators sent a representative to talk to British and Iraqiofficials, who promised them 8,000 jobs. But protesters, who said a similarpromise had been made weeks ago, were unsatisfied and the clash ensued. No Iraqipolice were visible today.