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The Basra prison incident was an event involving British troops in Basra, Iraq. On 19 September 2005, two undercover British Special Air Service soldiers disguised in Arab civilian garments and headdresses opened fire on Iraqi police officers after having been stopped at a roadblock. Two Iraqi officers were shot, at least one of whom died.[1] The two British men were arrested and taken to the Al Jameat police station.

British tanks encircled the jail where the men (whose photographs have been widely circulated but whose names have not been made public) were being held. A crowd gathered and began throwing stones and petrol bombs at the tanks, setting at least one ablaze. Three British soldiers were injured and, according to some reports, two demonstrators were killed.[1]

After nightfall, the British army returned and stormed the prison where the SAS men were being held, breaking down the walls and freeing the two SAS men. According to the governor of Basra province, Mohammed al-Waili, the British had used "more than ten tanks backed by helicopters" to carry out the raid. After the British army left, around 150 other prisoners fled the prison.[1][2]

The Ministry of Defence initially denied storming the prison.[3] In later statements, it is explained that the soldiers would have likely been killed, and that the police force had been infiltrated by illegal militia groups.[4]

The Governor of the province, Muhammad al-Waili, denounced the event as "barbaric, savage and irresponsible".

On 25 December 2006, British troops again raided the Al Jameat station, killing seven gunmen and freeing 127 prisoners being held by Shia militias there. They then blew up the building.[5] A British Army spokesperson stated that the 127 prisoners freed had been tortured and that there were fears that they were about to be executed.[6]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "British soldiers free two from Basra jail". USA Today. 19 September 2005. Retrieved 19 March 2012. 
  2. "British tanks storm Basra jail to free undercover soldiers" (20 September 2005). The Guardian.
  3. "UK denies storming Iraqi jail to free soldiers" (20 September 2005). ABC News Online
  4. SAS stormed prison to save soldiers from execution" (21 September 2005). Times Online.
  5. "British troops attack Iraqi police station in Basra" (25 December 2006). International Herald Tribune.
  6. "Discussions to follow Basra raid" (26 December 2006). BBC News.

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