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Indybay FeatureRelated Categories: Iraq | International
British raid on Iraq police cells in Basra.
British forces have stormed the headquarters of a rogue Iraqi police unit where it was feared that police officers planned to kill detainees, a military spokesman has said.
Seven Iraqis were killed when about 1,000 British soldiers carried out the pre-dawn raid in southern Basra.
The police station was demolished with explosives afterwards.
Major Charlie Burbridge said: "There are 178 prisoners inside the police station and one of the reasons we decided to go today was that we began to receive some very accurate intelligence which suggests that the serious crime unit was about to start killing the prisoners."
A British force of Challenger tanks and Warrior armoured fighting vehicles came under rocket-propelled grenade and machinegun fire from alleyways as it approached the station, he said.
Burbridge said many of the prisoners held by the Serious Crimes Unit had been tortured.
"The prisoners were found with signs of torture, such as crushed hands, cigarette burns, scars from electric shock treatment and many couldn't walk," he told Al Jazeera.
Captain Tane Dunlop, another British military spokesman, said the troops carried out medical assessments of detainees at the building and transferred them to another police station.
"We [then] used explosives to put the building beyond use so it can no longer be used by the criminal enterprise," he said. "We had clear directions from the prime minister and governor [Mohammed] Waili to dissolve the unit."