Soldiers say pictures are 'tip of the iceberg'

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The Independent Online

British soldiers in Iraq swapped hundreds of photographs of civilians being mistreated, according to new claims made in the Daily Mirror.

The latest allegations, by two soldiers serving in the Queen's Lancashire Regiment who sparked controversy after giving the tabloid newspaper photographs showing British soldiers apparently ill-treating an Iraqi prisoner, suggest the problem is much more widespread than has been admitted to by the Prime Minister, Tony Blair.

After their initial claims last week, Mr Blair said any misconduct in British ranks was "exceptional" and limited to a handful of servicemen.

But the two soldiers said the photographs were "just the tip off the iceberg".

They claim troops serving in southern Iraq had swapped hundreds of pictures among themselves. The soldiers, who last night said they stood by "every single word of our story", insisted it was not a hoax and that the Army knew a lot more had happened.

One told the Daily Mirror: "Maybe the officers don't know what is going on - but everyone else does. I have seen literally hundreds of pictures."

Detailing allegations of other assaults, the soldiers described a baton attack which left a prisoner with a compound fracture of his arm. Many of the pictures were destroyed last September when the soldiers' luggage was searched as they left Iraq, the report said.

A Ministry of Defence spokesman said they were not aware of any other photographs of prisoners being mistreated or of a culture of trading pictures. He said: "If people have got evidence of such activity, then they should bring it to the attention of the Army authorities.