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Violence Erupts Again in Basra - 2003-08-10


Violence erupted for a second day in the southern Iraqi city of Basra, where crippling shortages of power and fuel have made life difficult during the hottest days of the year.

Reporters at the scene in Basra said at least one Iraqi was wounded as British troops fired rubber bullets into the angry crowd, after several soldiers were injured by stone-throwers.

British commanders had increased troop deployments in Basra following similar riots on Saturday hoping to avoid further violence.

As in many other parts of Iraq, life in Basra has been seriously disrupted by severe power and fuel shortages during the hottest days of the year, a time when temperatures in southern Iraq can reach 50 degrees Celsius.

Many residents of Iraq's second largest city have grown impatient with the failure to improve basic services, four months after coalition forces ousted Saddam Hussein's government.

Chief Coalition spokesman Charles Heatley told reporters in Baghdad that the problems in Basra were caused by fuel smugglers and saboteurs who have damaged power stations. Mr. Heatley promised that coalition troops would address the problems. "We are patching the system at the moment, breaking the vicious circle and taking steps to bring in the long-term investment that is needed to give the people of Basra and other parts of this country the basic services, which they need and they deserve and they were not given by the previous regime," he said.

Guerrilla attacks against coalition forces elsewhere in Iraq continued Sunday. At least four U.S. soldiers were reported wounded in two separate attacks in Baghdad and in the northern town of Kirkuk.

The United States declared major combat in the Iraq war was over more than three months ago, but scores of deadly, smaller-scale attacks have been launched against U.S. forces since then.

Despite the continuing violence, President Bush said Saturday that the United States will keep its long-term commitment to bring peace, economic stability and democracy to Iraq.

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