Three RAF men killed as minister flies into Iraq

THREE RAF servicemen have been killed in a mortar attack on a British base in southern Iraq.

The attack came a few hours before Bob Ainsworth, who was appointed armed forces minister last month, made his first visit to the country.

Two of the victims were from 1 Squadron RAF Regiment, while the other was from 504 Squadron Royal Auxiliary Air Force.

They died after their base in Basra came under fire.

Major Mike Shearer, a UK military spokesman, said the complex had come under attack from roadside insurgents who fired indiscriminately. He described those responsible as "morally anorexic".

Mr Ainsworth yesterday met senior British and Iraqi military officials in Basra. Speaking of the latest deaths, he said: "These servicemen died defending our country and their sacrifice will not be forgotten."

The deaths bring the total number of British military casualties since hostilities began in Iraq to 162.

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