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British Military Seeks Revival of Police Services in Basra - 2003-04-12

The British military is working to revive police services in Iraq's second biggest city, Basra, following a breakdown in law and order after the fall of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

The British army says it intends to begin joint patrols with Iraqi policemen within a few days in the southern city of Basra.

As in other cities around Iraq, Basra was hit by a spree of looting and civil disorder this week following the collapse of the Saddam Hussein government.

A British Army spokesman, Group Captain Al Lockwood, told British radio Saturday that care has been taken in selecting Iraqi policemen to join the joint patrols. "Over the last few days we've been talking to the lower levels of the Iraqi police and we're in the sort of delicate situation where we want to introduce the police force back onto the streets, obviously patrolling with our patrols to test how the local population will react to this," he said.

Captain Lockwood said the residents of Basra are clamoring for more security, but they do not want men associated with Saddam Hussein. "The police, we hope, particularly at the lower levels, are untarnished by the regime. We will obviously vet very carefully those we allow into positions where they exert the little authority that we allow them at this moment," he said. "But it's a natural progression. The civilian population is keen to see law and order restored."

British troops have shot dead five bank robbers in Basra, and officials say looting dropped off sharply afterward.