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British deaths at Basra

The dead men were in a British Challenger tank.
The dead men were in a British Challenger tank.

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DOHA, Qatar (CNN) -- Two British soldiers have been killed in a 'friendly fire' incident around the southern Iraqi city of Basra.

Their tank was fired on by another British Challenger tank, British military officials told CNN.

The soldiers were from the Queen's Royal Lancers, part of the First Royal Regiment of Fusiliers Battle Group, a British military spokesman in Qatar said.

The incident occurred "during a period of multiple engagements from enemy forces on the outskirts of Basra," a British military statement said.

It was the second incident in which British personnel were killed by coalition fire since the war began last week.

Two British pilots were killed Sunday when a Patriot missile shot down their Tornado GR4 as it returned from a mission over Iraq.

The Basra deaths happened as journalists were reporting a possible uprising inside Basra -- which was being denied by Iraq' s information minister -- and British military movements around the city perimeter. (Full story)

About 1,000 irregulars of the Iraqi army are estimated to be holed up in Basra, where resistance to the allied advance has been stubborn. The Saddam Fedayeen militia, dressed in civilian clothes, is also in the city.

British officials on Tuesday designated Basra as a "legitimate military target," with the aim of providing humanitarian relief.

Previously, the allied coalition wanted to bypass Basra on the march to Baghdad, with the intention of returning to the city to mop up resistance later in the campaign. (Full story)

-- CNN Producer Justin Dial contributed to this report

EDITOR'S NOTE: CNN's policy is to not report information that puts operational security at risk.


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