100th British soldier killed in Iraq

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Tuesday, January 31, 2006

The total death toll of the British Army in Iraq (excluding British soldiers employed privately as mercenaries) reached 100 this morning with a solider dying from injuries suffered in an explosion at Um Qasr. Um Qasr is an Iraqi port in the southern Basra province where British troops operate.

The Ministry of Defence has yet to name the soldier, a member of the 7th Armoured Brigade who are better known as "the Desert Rats". They stated that the blast, which also injured three other soldiers, took place at around 8.30 a.m.

Sympathy has been widely expressed by various political and social figures. An official spokesman for British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who ordered the country's troops into Iraq, said that he was "deeply saddened" by the death, as he is by all fatalities of service personnel. Dr Liam Fox, the opposition Conservatives defence spokesman, also expressed his sympathies.

Critics of the war also expressed their sympathies but blamed the government for the soldiers' death. Reg Keys, father of a military policemen who died in an ambush in Iraq, said that "We have had 100 chances to learn our lesson. It just goes on and on." George Galloway, the Respect MP for Bethnal Green and Bow said "Our hearts go out to the family of the hundredth British soldier to die in Iraq. These one hundred deaths are the all too predictable consequences of the illegal and immoral war in Iraq. I don't want another British soldier to die occupying other people's countries." Respect echoed the call by the Stop the War Coalition for a demonstration in Parliament Square were the names of the all dead will be read aloud.

However, Conservative foreign secretary Sir Malcolm Rifkind, who originally opposed the war, claimed that Britain could not just leave Iraq.

Among countries that sent soldiers to Iraq, the UK ranks second in number of casualties, above Italy with 27 and Ukraine with 18, but is well below the US's figure of 2242. The number of Iraqi military casualties is agreed to be larger than this, but may lie anywhere between 5000 and 45,000 according to different sources.

The number of Iraqi civilian casualties from March 2003 to September 2004 is estimated as 100,000 (excluding the Fallujah attack), with most of the violent deaths due to air strikes.