Basra Police Call British-Led Raid 'Illegal'

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In Basra, Iraq, police and city officials call Monday's raid by British and Iraqi forces on a police station there illegal.

A massive force — some 800 British soldiers and 600 Iraqi Army troops — assaulted the Jamiat station. They removed 127 prisoners being held there, many of whom showed signs of torture. The soldiers then blew the station up.

There were no coalition casualties, but seven fighters were killed before and during the raid.

The police station was the headquarters of the city's Serious Crimes Unit, but the SCU had a reputation for operating outside of the law, torturing locals and extorting "protection" money from them. Melissa Block talks with the BBC's Huw Williams.

Williams was at coalition headquarters at the Basra airbase. He says the Jamiat station had a violent history during Saddam's time, which has continued after the invasion. Williams says the British military is convinced that the SCU was responsible for dozens of executions as well.



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