Four British troops wounded in attack in Basra

Four British soldiers were wounded near their base outside the southern city of Basra in an attack which the Iraqi police said Thursday was a roadside bomb explosion that targeted a British patrol.

The attack took place Wednesday night and was followed by a clash between the troops and unidentified gunmen, Basra police Col. Kareem al-Zaidi said.

Britain’s Ministry of Defense said four British troops were injured in the blast, which it described as an explosion outside the British base. It did not immediately provide any further detail.

Al-Zaidi said the Iraqi Army was searching central Basra for the gunmen involved in the attack. Sporadic shooting could be heard and some roads were closed.

Basra, Iraq’s second-largest city, is about 550 kilometers (340 miles) southeast of Baghdad. The British handed control of Basra, an oil-rich area that is predominantly Shiite, back to the Iraqi government in December, though they still have troops in the area.