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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Britain May Reinforce Troops In Wake of 6 Soldiers' Deaths

MAJAR AL-KABIR, Iraq -- British forces gave civilian leaders 48 hours to hand over gunmen who killed six British military police, after a demonstration left four Iraqi civilians dead, a municipal official said Wednesday.

British military officials were meeting with seven members of the city's administrative council in nearby Amarah on Wednesday, seeking the killers' surrender, said Qassem Nimeh, an official in the Majar al-Kabir mayor's office.

Townspeople furious over the deaths of four civilians during a demonstration Tuesday in this southern Iraqi town shot and killed the British soldiers, local police said Wednesday.

The violent demonstration was the second in two days, apparently sparked by soldiers' searches for heavy weapons in villagers' homes, said Abu Zahraa, a 30-year-old local vendor.

Armed Iraqis killed two of the British soldiers at the scene of the demonstration and then stormed a police station and killed four other British soldiers after a two-hour gun battle, a pair of Iraqi policemen said.

Tuesday's violence sparked a review of Britain's forces in southern Iraq, with British Defense Secretary Geoff Hoon saying Wednesday that Britain could send more soldiers to Iraq and require them to resume wearing helmets and body armor.

A second incident on Tuesday also involved a fierce firefight between Iraqis and British troops occupying southern Iraq. That gun battle wounded eight British soldiers, three of them seriously. Two of the wounded were evacuated to an U.S. military hospital in Kuwait, the other six remain hospitalized in a field hospital south of Basra, said Lieutenant Commander Clive Woodman, a British military spokesman.