Three British Army soldiers killed in Iraq

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Saturday, July 16, 2005

The British MoD has confirmed in a statement that three British Army soldiers have been killed in a suspected roadside bomb in southern Iraq. Two others were wounded, though not life-threateningly.

The three soldiers were from the Warrior-equipped 1st Battalion, The Staffordshire Regiment. The regiment is stationed in Tidworth, Wiltshire. It arrived in Iraq in April as part of 12 Mechanised Brigade.

On 16 July, an MoD statement said that no further information would be disclosed until families had been informed. The following day, the MoD released the names of the three killed. They were: Second Lieutenant Richard Shearer, Private Leon Spicer, and Private Phillip Hewett.

Roadside attack

The roadside attack took place in the early hours of 16 July when three armoured Land Rovers were patrolling through the Risala neighbourhood of Al Amarah, capital of Maysan province. The attack brings the British forces death toll in Iraq to 92.

The Staffordshire Regiment is the lead component of Task Force Maysan, based in Camp Abu Naji, just outside Amarah. The Task Force has responsibility for the entire province, which is north of Al Basrah province.

Task Force Maysan has experienced previous attacks in the past few months. According to the MoD website, on 6 June Private Adam Mills of the Staffordshire Regiment discovered a roadside bomb which was subsequently made safe.

Previous violence in Amarah

Amarah has a population of about 340,000 and has been the scene of previous violence against British forces. In May, two British soldiers were killed in the city. In 2004, it was the scene of fierce fighting between British forces and Iraqi insurgents, which led to the awarding of the Victoria Cross to Private Johnson Beharry of the 1st Battalion, Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment

In Majar Al-Kabir, near Al Amarah, a patrol of six Royal Military Police were surrounded and killed by an Iraqi mob on 24 June 2003.

The 16 July attack is the largest loss of life in a single day for the British Army since 4 November 2004, when 3 soldiers of the Black Watch were killed in northern Iraq in a suicide car attack. The largest loss of life sustained by British forces as a whole took place on 30 January 2005, when a C-130K transport crashed north of Baghdad, killing nine RAF and one Army personnel.