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Iraq Transition

Basra council breaks ties with coalition

Hussein won't eat; coalition soldier killed
Demonstrators in Basra on Sunday walk over a large image of a Danish flag.


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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Basra's provincial government temporarily has cut ties with the Danish and British contingents in Basra, the council's head told CNN on Tuesday.

The move -- which calls for what a British official referred to as a "period of noncooperation" -- comes amid the Muslim protests over Danish cartoons and the alleged beatings of Iraqis by British troops.

Mohammad Zaher Sadoun said the Basra Provincial Council demanded the withdrawal of Danish troops and an apology to Muslims worldwide from the Danish government amid the publications of caricatures of Islam's Prophet Mohammed in a Danish newspaper. Picturing the Prophet Mohammed is forbidden in Islam.

The council also demanded that soldiers accused of beating "innocent Iraqis" be brought to justice and demanded clarity from the British government on the incident seen on the videotape.

The incident that has outraged Iraqis was shown on a 2004 videotape, released Sunday by a British tabloid. The video appears to show eight British soldiers dragging three young men behind a wall, where the troops kick and hit the Iraqis with batons and fists.

The British military has announced the arrests of three people in connection with the incident. The British Ministry of Defense said one person was arrested Sunday and two were detained Tuesday. No other details were disclosed. (Full story)

Sadoun said the council's demands are not threats but the government needs the requests to be met to be able to work with the Brits and Danes.

"We will make efforts to continue cooperation, but if local council does not want cooperation, this will be difficult," said Mark Alker, a British military official.

He said the military had worked with the Basra council on security and some basic services such as sewage drainage.

Basra, one of the largest cities in Iraq, falls under the British armed forces' command.

The coalition contingent in southeast Iraq comprises troops from the Czech Republic, Denmark, Holland, Italy, Lithuania, Romania and the United Kingdom, according to the British military.

Hussein on hunger strike

Former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein said Tuesday he and several other defendants, including his half brother, are on a hunger strike.

A defiant Hussein told the Iraqi court the defendants were protesting "the treatment from you and your masters."

As the lead judge banged the gavel and called for order, Hussein told him to "take that hammer and knock it on your own head."

After hearing from three witnesses, the judge adjourned the trial until February 28. (Full story)

Coalition soldier killed

A roadside bomb in western Baghdad killed one coalition soldier and wounded two others, the U.S. military said Tuesday.

The military press office said it did not know the nationality of the victims, who were struck while riding in a military vehicle in the Abu Ghraib neighborhood.

Since the U.S.-led invasion nearly three years ago, 2,472 coalition troops have died in the Iraq war.

Another coalition convoy was attacked in Baghdad's western Salaam area, wounding four soldiers.

Other developments

  • Bombers in Baghdad wounded 10 people Tuesday, including two police commandos.
  • An Iraqi army major and his son were killed in Taji, just north of the capital Tuesday morning. Taji is 20 miles (32 kilometers) from Baghdad.
  • Col. Nathem Al Zoubeydi, head of communications for police in Diyala province, and one police officer were wounded by men who shot at his vehicle in Baquba, a provincial official said. Baquba is about 37 miles (60 kilometers) north of Baghdad in Diyala province.
  • Late Monday, gunmen killed Baghdad Police Col. Mehdi Mutlag in a drive-by shooting in the southern Iraqi neighborhood of Dora.
  • Soldiers from Task Force Band of Brothers killed one member of a suspected terrorist mortar team and wounded another near Samarra on Monday evening, the U.S. military said. Samarra is 75 miles (121 kilometers) north of Baghdad.
  • CNN's Arwa Damon contributed to this report.

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