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Basra Residents Stage Protests for Second Day

Basra Residents Stage Protests for Second Day

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BASRA, Iraq (AP) -- Basra residents overwhelmed by the heat and angry about fuel shortages and electricity cuts bombarded British soldiers with rocks in a second day of protests Sunday. A demonstrator and a security guard were killed.

Elsewhere, four U.S. soldiers and a journalist were wounded in guerrilla attacks, and the U.S. military said a 3rd Corps Support Command soldier died of heat stroke while traveling in a convoy near the southern city of Diwaniyah on Saturday.

The military also reported a soldier was found dead in his bed Saturday. The cause of death was not determined.

Basra had been one of the quietest cities in the country. On Sunday, the protester was shot dead after an angry crowd tried to block four four-wheel drive vehicles crossing the main bridge leading to the airport and the British military headquarters. It was not clear who shot the demonstrator.

British troops patrolling the area gave away their own fuel to calm the demonstrators, coalition spokesman Charles Heatly said.

The dead guard worked for Global Security, a private company hired to provide security and other services for coalition bases throughout the country. The guard, of Nepalese origin, was bringing mail from Kuwait to United Nations staff in Basra.

He was shot by an unknown assailant as a two-car convoy neared an intersection in the center of the city, coalition spokesman Iain Pickard said.

Protesters blocked roads with rows of burning tires. They threw rocks at the cars when shots rang out that apparently killed the protester. It was unclear who was in the cars or who fired the shots. British military spokesman Capt. Hisham Halawi denied British forces were involved.

The shooting followed clashes by about 1,000 residents Saturday. British soldiers suffered minor injuries when attacked by crowds throwing rocks and bricks, Halawi told The Associated Press.

In Baghdad, Heatly said coalition forces were taking steps to alleviate the power and fuel crisis in Basra. The coalition also brought in two new gas turbine generators to try to patch up the antiquated electricity system, and British soldiers were supervising distribution at gas stations to make sure people were not charged exorbitant black-market prices.

The U.S. military reported that two soldiers and a journalist were wounded in a rocket-propelled grenade attack at the Baghdad University complex Sunday. It said one soldier had quickly returned to duty.

Qatar-based Al-Jazeera satellite TV reported one of its cameramen was wounded after the U.S. patrol he was traveling with came under fire at the College of Islamic Sciences. His wounds were not life-threatening, a coalition spokesman said.

A previously unknown group calling itself the Iraqi Resistance vowed in a statement aired on Al-Jazeera to continue fighting coalition troops and said it had no links to Saddam Hussein's Baath party.

"We swear by God, we will we make the whole land of Iraq a graveyard to all those villain invaders," said the statement read by one of four armed men wearing red-checked Arab headdresses masking their faces. Two of the four men held rocket-propelled grenade launchers, two held Kalashnikov automatic rifles.

On Saturday, five men claiming to represent three previously unknown groups -- the White Banners, Muslim Youth and Mohammed's Army -- appeared in a similar video broadcast on the Dubai-based Al-Arabiya satellite channel.

U.S. military officials have blamed almost daily attacks on Saddam loyalists and Iraqis angered by a foreign occupation. There is growing concern that foreign fighters in Iraq may join the conflict, conducting terrorist attacks like the one Thursday on the Jordanian Embassy in which 19 people died.

Taped claims of responsibility have appeared often on Arabic satellite stations since the U.S. invasion. U.S. military officials and terrorism experts say it is impossible to determine whether the self-proclaimed groups are real fighting forces. Terrorism experts say the videos may be aimed at recruiting fighters.

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

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