LONDON – Rockets slammed into the British military base outside the southern Iraqi city of Basra on Monday, killing one civilian, the British Ministry of Defense announced. It was the first such attack on the base in nearly three months.
Rockets or mortar shells were also fired near the giant U.S. base in Balad, 50 miles north of Baghdad, the U.S. military said. There were no reports of damage or casualties.
A British military spokesman said that the attack outside Basra occurred about 9 p.m. and that one non-British foreign civilian was killed. A statement by the U.S.-led coalition in Baghdad said the victim was a third country national, meaning not an Iraqi either.
The British spokesman said it was the first rocket attack on the airport since December. He spoke on condition of anonymity in line with military policy.
About 4,000 British soldiers remain at the Basra airport base after British forces withdrew from their base inside the city in late 2007. Most of those troops are due to leave Iraq along with 12,000 U.S. soldiers by September as part of President Obama's drawdown of forces here.
Violence has dropped off sharply — especially in southern Iraq — since last year, when U.S. and Iraqi forces routed Shiite militias from their strongholds in Basra and the Sadr City district of Baghdad.
Nevertheless, attacks continue. About 30 people were killed Sunday when a suicide bomber attacked a group of recruits outside the police academy in Baghdad, inflicting the deadliest toll in the capital in months.
In other violence Monday, gunmen fired at a police checkpoint in the northern city of Mosul, killing two officers and wounding a civilian, police said. A policeman also was killed and two others were wounded when an explosives-laden bicycle left near a police station exploded in Mishada, 20 miles north of the capital.
Iraq's state minister for women's affairs, meanwhile, said she planned to withdraw her resignation after receiving pledges from aid groups to help improve women's lives.
Nawal al-Samarraie quit last month to protest the lack of resources for women, accusing the government of not making women's needs a priority.
But the Sunni activist decided to return to her job after getting pledges of funds and support from international aid organizations. She also said more than 50 Iraqi women have offered to volunteer to implement the ministry's plans.
Al-Samarraie said she will present her request to be reinstated to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's office Tuesday. The office could not immediately be reached for comment on whether it would accept her request.
Al-Maliki was scheduled to fly to Australia on Tuesday with a delegation including high-level officials from the political and economic fields as part of his bid to attract international investment.
Government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said al-Maliki also would travel to Russia and Britain but no dates have been set.