British soldier killed in Iraq

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The Independent Online

A British soldier has been killed and another injured in an attack on a base in southern Iraq, the Ministry of Defence said today.

The dead soldier, who has not been named, was serving with the Royal Army Medical Corps when the Shaat Al Arab Hotel base in Basra came under fire late on Sunday afternoon.

A second forces member, who has also not been identified, was injured in the attack.

The MoD described the incident as an "indirect fire attack" which can mean mortar or rocket fire, but did not specify which for operational reasons.

The incident takes the number of British service personnel who have died since the start of hostilities in Iraq to 119.

A spokesman in Iraq is quoted by the Associated Press as saying that 15 shells had been fired at the compound, with three landing inside.

"This was a very serious indirect fire attack, and we have in recent weeks increased our security measures there, and were it not for these security measures we could have had more casualties," Major Charles Burbridge told AP.

AP also quoted Basra police as saying that one round which apparently missed the compound had landed on a nearby home, killing two children aged seven and three and wounding a third.

An MoD spokeswoman said: "The Ministry of Defence regrets to confirm that a soldier from the Royal Army Medical Corps was killed and another seriously injured following an indirect fire attack on the Shaat Al Arab Hotel base in Basra city.

"Next of kin have been informed."

She said the identity of the dead soldier could not be confirmed until after a 24-hour grace period.

She also made clear that while the dead soldier had been serving with the Royal Army Medical Corps, no details of the surviving injured service member, such as the regimental name, would be released.