American civilian contractor killed in bomb attack on convoy

By D'Arcy Doran, Associated Press, 8/5/2003 08:48

TIKRIT, Iraq (AP) An American civilian contractor was killed Tuesday when a remote-control bomb exploded under the truck he was driving north of Tikrit, the U.S. military said.

The contractor was employed by Kellogg Brown & Root, a subsidiary of Halliburton, a Houston-based oilfield-services and construction company. Halliburton, the former company of Vice President Dick Cheney, has major contracts for reconstruction in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

Maj. Brian Luke, of the 4th Infantry Division, said the five- vehicle convoy was traveling from Baghdad when it was attacked. Insurgents have increasingly been using roadside bombs detonated by remote control to attack American forces.

Kellogg Brown & Root has been doing work at the Baiji refinery and pipeline terminus about 30 miles north of Tikrit, the hometown of deposed dictator Saddam Hussein, about 125 miles north of Baghdad.

The military said the destination of the convoy was not immediately known, and that the name of the civilian was being withheld until relatives were notified.

Lt. Col. William MacDonald, also of the 4th Infantry, said the contractor died after being taken to a U.S. military field hospital at an air base north of Tikrit.

By midafternoon Tuesday, American forces were well into a fourth straight day without losing a U.S. soldier to hostile fire, after a two-week period in which American forces were being killed at a rate of nearly one a day.

All the deaths have occurred in the Sunni Triangle, the region north and west of Baghdad where support for Saddam's deposed regime remains especially strong. Tikrit where Saddam's slain sons, Odai and Qusai, were buried Saturday has proven especially hostile to the American occupation.

The sons died in a shootout with American forces July 22 in the northern city of Mosul, where they were hiding in a villa.

Meanwhile, some 2,000 Polish troops began heading for Kuwait, preparing to take over peacekeeping duties in south-central Iraq on Sept. 1. The deployments will continue through early next week, but Defense Ministry officials in Warsaw would not give further details.

About 250 Polish command staff are already on the ground in Iraq, preparing for the arrival of the Polish troops, who will form the core of a 9,000-strong peacekeeping force with soldiers from 22 countries that will patrol the sector.

It was not immediately clear if the civilian contractor killed Monday was the first to die in Iraq, but he was certainly among the first.

Cheney's former company already has garnered more than $600 million in military work related to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and potentially could earn billions more without having to compete with other companies.

Under a 10-year contract signed in 2001, Kellogg Brown & Root is the Army's sole provider of troop support services a deal that has led to work orders so far totaling $529.4 million related to the two wars.

The company also was given a separate, no-bid contract worth $71.3 million to repair and operate oil wells in Iraq.

The doling out of the work orders has prompted criticism from some Democrats in Congress that Cheney's former company is receiving favored treatment.