Blair Says Prisoner Abuse 'Completely Unacceptable'

Prime Minister Tony Blair (search) said Saturday that any abuse of Iraqi prisoners by coalition troops would be "completely unacceptable" after a newspaper published photographs allegedly showing British troops mistreating a prisoner.

"I think anyone would be sickened by any thought that coalition troops had abused Iraqi prisoners," Blair told Sky News TV.

British officials said they are investigating allegations of abuse by U.K. soldiers after the Daily Mirror (search) newspaper published photos allegedly showing a hooded Iraqi prisoner who reportedly was beaten by British troops. The newspaper's front-page picture showed a soldier apparently urinating on the prisoner, who was sitting on the floor.

The allegations surfaced after the American CBS network broadcast images allegedly showing Iraqis stripped naked, hooded and being tormented by their U.S. captors.

Referring to the allegations in the Daily Mirror, Blair told Sky News that "if it happened it's completely unacceptable."

But he added that British troops stationed in Iraq "are doing a fantastic job for the Iraqi people.

"If there has been any abuse I believe it to be exceptional, but that doesn't make it any the less unacceptable," the prime minister said.

Earlier Saturday, Armed Forces Minister Adam Ingram (search) promised a thorough and independent inquiry by the Royal Military Police into the claims of abuse.

"There is an independent investigation under way and if wrongdoing is established, then full action will be taken through the independent prosecuting authority," Ingram told British Broadcasting Corp. radio. He said the inquiry would be independent because the RMP operates outside the British army's chain of command.

The Mirror said it was given the pictures by serving soldiers from the Queen's Lancashire Regiment, who were concerned that "rogue elements" in the army were undermining attempts to win support from the Iraqi people.

The newspaper quoted the unidentified soldiers as saying the unarmed captive had been threatened with execution during eight hours of abuse, and was left bleeding and vomiting. They said the captive was then driven away and dumped from the back of a moving vehicle, and it was not known whether he survived.