August 9, 2007 / 1:13 PM / 12 years ago

Four UK troops die in Iraq in 48 hours

Iraqis exchanges greetings with British soldiers on patrol a few miles to the north of Basra July 12, 2007. Two British soldiers were killed in Iraq early on Thursday, taking the death toll to four in about 48 hours. The Irish Guards soldiers killed shortly after midnight were in a convoy hit by a roadside bomb near the Rumaila oil fields, west of Basra. Two other soldiers were seriously injured. REUTERS/Atef Hassan

BASRA, Iraq (Reuters) - Two British soldiers were killed in Iraq early on Thursday, taking the death toll to four in about 48 hours.

The Irish Guards soldiers killed shortly after midnight were in a convoy hit by a roadside bomb near the Rumaila oil fields, west of Basra. Two other soldiers were seriously injured.

British-patrolled southern Iraq has become more dangerous for British troops since the government announced in February that London would cut back its force during the course of 2007.

In the April-July period, 30 British soldiers died in Iraq, making it the deadliest period since the 2003 invasion when Britain had nine times as many troops as the 5,500-strong contingent it has deployed now.

One soldier was killed during a foot patrol on Tuesday and another was shot while driving an armoured Warrior vehicle on Monday night.

The British have withdrawn from three of the four provinces they once patrolled, leaving troops only in Basra, Iraq’s second-largest city.

In Basra they have pulled out of two of their three bases. They are due to abandon the last city base in coming weeks and withdraw to their heavily mortared air base outside the city.

British commanders say Shi’ite militants are stepping up attacks to create the impression they are pushing the British out. The military says it will withdraw on its own schedule.

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