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New video shows UK troops attacked

A previously unseen video footage shows British troops being attacked minutes before the beating of Iraqi civilians.

india Updated: Feb 14, 2006 18:38 IST

A previously unseen video footage purportedly showing British troops being attacked minutes before the beating of Iraqi civilians by them has been aired here even as a soldier was arrested during a probe into the incident.

The BBC ran last night what it said was previously unseen shots of a street disturbance involving a mob in the minutes before the alleged assault on civilians.

The BBC also named a soldier arrested by military police on Sunday night as Corporal Martin Webster of the 1st Battalion, Light Infantry. He is said to have been involved in making the video.

Five other soldiers, also from the 1st Battalion of the Light infantry, were interviewed at their base in Germany about the incident in Maysan province, southern Iraq, in January 2004.

On Sunday, news of a footage allegedly showing UK troops kicking, punching and striking young civilians with batons, while a colleague filming the footage heard laughing, was published in the widely circulated The News of the World, forcing Ministry of Defence to order a probe into the images.

It was not clear whether the Corporal was being interviewed as a witness or a perpetrator, the corporation said.

The Ministry of Defence would not comment on the name but said a British military unit was "assisting with inquiries".

Soldiers of the 1st Battalion, Light Infantry, were being spoken to by Royal Military Police belonging to the Defence Ministry. However, it was not known whether any or all of the soldiers shown in the footage were from the unit.

Royal Military Police were still facing difficulties in identifying the unit or units to which the group captured on film belonged.

But the fact that they were talking to the 1st Battalion Light Infantry suggested that abuse happened during the deployment of 20 Armoured Brigade. The brigade, based in Paderborn, Germany, was in southern Iraq until April 2004.

A Downing Street spokesman said the claims would be taken very seriously, but said it was important to keep the latest abuse claims in perspective.

He said 80,000 soldiers had served in the country since 2003, but this was only the sixth case to involve allegations of deliberate abuse of Iraqi civilians.

First Published: Feb 14, 2006 18:38 IST