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Maimed Iraqi boy missing for seven years

The Government has launched an urgent probe into the disappearance of an injured Iraqi boy taken into care by the British Army seven years ago, it emerged today.

Memmon Salam al-Maliki, then 11, disappeared within days of being taken to a military base in 2003 after being wounded while playing with munitions in Basra.

According to The Guardian, the British authorities told Memmon's father his son was transferred to an American military hospital in Kuwait after 10 days, but have since been unable to give any more information about his whereabouts.

A Ministry of Defence area claims officer subsequently told Salam al-Maliki his son's location was unknown, the paper said, and that "all avenues within British military channels had been exhausted".

In 2005, the last MoD communication with the family, a senior claims officer said Memmon remained missing but there was no evidence of any negligence by British forces, it added.

The US military authorities have also been unable to confirm whether they took charge of the boy in Kuwait, the Guardian said.

Memmon was injured in April 2003 while playing near his Basra home. He suffered an eye injury, lost his left hand and several fingers from his right. He would now be 18.

Mr al-Maliki told the paper: "I am not the same man since he disappeared. I don't want to see people and I don't want to go out.

"His mother is still sad and crying, wondering if her son is dead or alive."

Defence Secretary Dr Liam Fox said: "I would like to extend my sincerest sympathy to his family in what is clearly a deeply upsetting case.

"I have asked MoD officials to conduct a thorough search of all documentation to see whether they can shed any new light on this case as a matter of urgency."

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