Militants loyal to Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr clashed with Iraqi security forces throughout Iraq's southern oil hub of Basra for a second day on Wednesday. A health official said 40 people had been killed and 200 wounded in the first day of the clashes, including civilians, gunmen and Iraqi security forces.
Forty people were killed and more than 125 wounded when three car bombs exploded in quick succession in the Shi'ite city of Amara in southern Iraq on Wednesday, police said. The attacks in the capital of Maysan province were among the deadliest this year in southern Iraq and came as tensions ran high across the region.
British troops were quitting the southern Iraqi city of Basra overnight in a move that will end the British presence in the oil hub for the first time since the United States-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003. The pull-out is another step towards handing over Basra province to Iraqi control and paving the way for an eventual withdrawal of British forces from Iraq.
Iranian forces seized 15 British Royal Navy personnel who had searched a merchant ship on Friday, Britain said, triggering a diplomatic crisis. Britain said the incident took place in Iraqi waters, where it routinely boards merchant vessels with United Nations permission to search them. The UK Foreign Office summoned Iran's ambassador.