Three British soldiers were killed, and a fourth seriously injured by an improvised explosive device in Iraq early this morning.

Major David Gell told the BBC the explosion happened at about 01.00 local time on Thursday in the Al Antahiya district in the south-east of Basra.

The soldiers had left their Warrior armoured vehicle when the IED was detonated.

He said the number of insurgent attacks in Basra was rising again, following a peak in February.

“We believe this to be in part because of our success against rogue militia who are trying to destabilise the situation,” he said.

The deaths take to the total number of UK troops killed in Iraq, since hostilities began in 2003, to 156.