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British forces have fought gun battles with militiamen on the streets of Basra and a military spokeswoman says the situation in Iraq's second largest city is "extremely tense".
Two British military Land Rovers have been set on fire by guerrillas as militiamen loyal to radical Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr roamed the streets brandishing assault rifles and firing on troops with rocket-propelled grenades.
"There are ongoing engagements, it's certainly a conflict," a spokeswoman for British forces in Basra said.