A sniper has shot and wounded a British soldier in the Iraqi city of Basra. The attack, which happened several days ago, is the first to target British troops patrolling southern Iraq over the last few months.

Two unidentified gunmen opened fire on a British foot patrol in the southern city of Basra, wounding a British soldier in the leg. He is reported to be in stable condition.

The attack happened several days ago, but the British Defense Ministry has only now released the information.

The Basra shooting marks the first time British forces in Iraq have come under direct attack since the war was declared over in early May. Six British soldiers were killed by a mob in another southern city late last month, but that incident was blamed on a misunderstanding between the troops and local residents.

The British-patrolled, largely Shiite south has been relatively calm, whereas U.S. troops in central Iraq have come under daily, often deadly attacks for well over a month.

But in recent days, there have been indications that the violence may be spreading to other parts of the country -- including now, to Basra.