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British Find Suicide Bombers' Gear

British Find Suicide Bombers' Gear

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BASRA, Iraq (AP) -- British forces have seized 250 rocket-propelled grenade launchers and other weapons believed to have been stored for suicide bombers in Iraq's second-largest city, according to British pool reports.

And along the Iraq-Iran border, British forces flooded the lawless region amid reports of chemical weapons caches and underground chambers where prisoners from the last Gulf War 10 years ago were being held.

Meanwhile, British officers announced Saturday that joint police patrols -- British and Iraqi -- would be installed within a few days to monitor Basra. And snipers were installed on a hospital roof, while armored tanks are on guard at several hospitals to protect them from looting.

Soldiers seized 250 rocket-propelled grenade launchers in the northern part of Basra on Friday, said Maj. Neil Robertshaw of 10 Transport Regiment, Royal Logistic Corps. Explosives and detonators were recovered at several locations after patrols in the area were tipped off, British officials told pool reporters.

Robertshaw also said soldiers found a bus parked alongside a checkpoint with what appeared to be an explosive device inside.

"It actually turned out to be a prank but it shows that there are still people out there who resent our presence despite the work we are doing to try to help the local population," Robertshaw said.

Soldiers were told to be on full alert amid fears bombers would strike in crowded areas. Tanks and armored carriers were escorting troops delivering water in the city center.

British forces took control of this southern Iraq city last week and have been trying to maintain order and provide humanitarian aid to residents.

Meanwhile, in the city of Al Amara, engineers of the 1st Battalion Royal Irish were searching for dungeons they feared had already been entered by men loyal to Saddam Hussein's Baath party.

"There was an allegation that Iraqi and Kuwaiti prisoners were brought here from Baghdad when the UN weapons inspectors closed in," said Lt. Col. Tim Collins, the commanding officer.

"The head of police has told us that the use of underground chambers as prisons was standard practice but we fear that if there were any they will have been flooded to get rid of the evidence."

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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