UPATE : IRAQ'S SECURITY MINISTER CLAIMS US/IRAQI TROOPS MASSACRED 37 UNARMED WORSHIPPERS IN MOSQUE
Reuters news agency is now reporting Iraq's Security Minister as saying : "At evening prayers, American soldiers accompanied by Iraqi troops raided the Mustafa mosque and killed 37 people. They were all unarmed. Nobody fired a single shot at them (the troops). They went in, tied up the people and shot them all. They did not leave any wounded behind.
THREE VERSIONS OF MOSQUE MASSACRE OF ELDERLY WORSHIPPERS COMPETE TO BE CALLED 'THE TRUTH' AS FOG OF WAR THICKENS
From ABC News (Australia) : "Iraq's ruling parties have demanded US forces cede control of security as the government launched an inquiry into a raid on a Shiite mosque that ministers said involved 'cold blooded' killing by US-led troops.
"President Jalal Talabani said: 'We have to know the truth about what happened, and we must not be driven by rumours. This is a very dangerous incident which we must investigate.'
"Government-run television repeated lengthy footage of the bodies of men in civilian clothes with no weapons in sight.
"A day after the mosque assault, three broad versions of the events that led to the deaths of some 20 - or possibly more - people persisted.
"Iraq's security minister accused US and Iraqi forces of killing 37 unarmed civilians in the mosque after tying them up.
"Residents and police, who put the death toll among the troops' opponents at around 20, spoke of a fierce battle between the soldiers and gunmen from the Mehdi Army militia of Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, whose followers ran the mosque.
"US officials, finally confirming they were describing the same incident, stuck by a statement saying Iraqi special forces, advised by US troops, killed 16 'insurgents' who fired on them first.
"A State Department official said in Washington: 'This was an Iraqi planned and led operation and US forces were only in an advisory capacity.'As you might expect, the US version of how the massacre went down holds little sway in the Iraq media today (English language version available online), and the fury on the streets of Baghdad over the murders is growing.
Once again, the so-called radical cleric Al Sadr, who the US tried to imprison in 2003 after raiding his neswpaper offices, is now calling for calm and trying to halt any revenge attacks on American forces by outr
BASRA : BRUTAL CRIME GANGS, CORRUPT POLICE FERMENT INTO DANGEROUS NEW ENEMY FOR BRITISH FORCES
From the London Telegraph : "The British estimate that some 10 per cent of the police are actively working against them and the first loyalty of the majority is to a Shia Muslim militia or to their tribe.
"(Against British troops in Iraq, particularly Basra, a centre of British operations, there now exists)...outrage over a British operation in January to arrest more 'bad apples' in the force, the release by the News of the World last month of a video showing troops beating Iraqis and the publication of Danish cartoons satirising the Prophet Mohammad.
"But few in the British military believe that is the whole story. Instead they suspect that people close to the governing council are linked to criminal gangs whose activities the police crack-down impinged on, while the governor, Mohammed al-Wa'eli, is concerned primarily with preserving his power base.
"With units largely freed from their civic rebuilding obligations and no longer having to walk a political tightrope, patrols and operations have been stepped up."
"Meanwhile, Iraqis say crime has risen by 15 per cent and in February alone Basra saw 60 murders. Attacks on British troops are also increasing. (One British company) has been targeted 37 times since the start of December. The number of roadside bombs tripled in January from the previous two months."