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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Iraqis in Basra Riot Over Shortages

BASRA, Iraq -- British troops fired warning shots in the Iraqi city of Basra on Sunday as hundreds of locals rioted for a second day, attacking vehicles and burning tires in protest at power and fuel shortages.

British armored vehicles patrolled the streets, with troops in body armor, as crowds barricaded roads with burning tires and hurled chunks of concrete at passing cars.

At least two Iraqis were hurt in one incident, apparently by gunshots, although it was not clear who fired them. The two injured men were part of a crowd stoning passing cars and burning tires on a main highway in the city when an armored British patrol, including a tank, passed by.

About 1,000 angry residents burned tires and hurled rocks and bricks at British soldiers Saturday, complaining of frequent power cuts and black-market fuel prices, British military spokesman Captain Hisham Halawi said.

He said power cuts were the result of sabotage and extreme heat above 50 degrees. There were long lines at gas stations, and "tempers flared up." British troops were deployed at major gasoline stations "to ensure people get fuel at the right price, not black-market price."

Like most of Iraq, Basra has been plagued by power cuts that have crippled air conditioning and refrigeration during the hottest part of the summer.

Even those with household generators have been unable to use them due to shortages of fuel that the British authorities have blamed on smugglers trucking or shipping cheap supplies from Basra's abundant oil fields to Kuwait or into the Gulf.

Local people accuse Kuwaitis of conniving to smuggle out cheap Iraqi oil and also vented their anger at what they feel is British failure to improve basic services four months after they and the Americans toppled Saddam Hussein.

"They did not give us what they promised, and we have had enough of waiting," 19-year-old student Hassan Jasim said.

Halawi said coalition forces were investigating reports that Hussein loyalists and members of his Baath Party might have taken advantage of the situation to instigate the riots.

The U.S. military announced Saturday that Hussein's former interior minister -- No. 29 on the list of 55 most-wanted Iraqis -- is in U.S. custody.

Mahmud Dhiyab Al-Ahmad surrendered to coalition forces Friday, U.S. Central Command said in a statement.

The British ship HMS Sutherland seized the tanker M/V Navstar on Friday night, carrying at least 2,420 tons of diesel "critically needed in Iraq," said Paul Bremer, the U.S. administrator in Iraq. He said the crew will be turned over to Iraqi authorities for prosecution.

A team of FBI investigators, meanwhile, searched the bombed Jordanian Embassy and planned to return to the scene, U.S. soldiers guarding the compound said. The embassy was hit by a car bomb Thursday that killed 19 people.