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3 Americans die in Iraq roadside bombing

Three Americans were killed on Memorial Day in a roadside bombing near the city of Fallouja in Iraq’s Anbar province, the U.S. military said Tuesday.

The dead included a U.S. soldier, a Department of Defense contractor and a civilian State Department employee. They were returning from a visit to a wastewater treatment plant under construction in the city when their car drove over an improvised explosive device, U.S. officials said.

Two people in the convoy were wounded, a military statement said, without specifying whether they were soldiers or civilians.

The U.S. Embassy in Baghdad identified the State Department employee as Terrence Barnich of Chicago, who had been serving as deputy director of the Iraq transition assistance office at the embassy.

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“We and all who are working for a brighter future for Iraq condemn this terrible attack in the strongest possible terms,” U.S. Ambassador Christopher Hill said in a statement. “We remain committed as ever to helping Iraqis achieve the peace, stability and prosperity that will make such acts of terror a thing of the past.”

Barnich had served as head of the Illinois Commerce Commission and chief counsel to the governor of Illinois before moving to Iraq in 2007. He was an advisor to the Iraqi Electricity Ministry before joining the transition office.

It is relatively rare these days for U.S. civilians to be killed in Iraq, but Monday’s deaths bring to four the number who have died since Friday, when two defense contractors were killed in Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone. One died when a rocket exploded; the other was found slain in his car.

Fallouja is a former insurgent stronghold that was wrested from militants by U.S. Marines in 2004 in one of the fiercest battles of the war. The rest of Anbar province remained under insurgent control until 2007, when Sunni tribesmen formed the Awakening movement and turned against the insurgency.

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Although the province is now largely peaceful, cells of the militant group Al Qaeda in Iraq continue to operate, periodically targeting U.S. and Iraqi security forces.

U.S. troops have pulled back to the peripheries of Anbar’s cities in preparation for a June 30 deadline to withdraw from the centers of all Iraq’s cities. But U.S. officials continue to supervise a number of reconstruction projects in the province. The wastewater plant that the three Americans had been visiting was the largest U.S.-funded project in the province, Hill said.

Also Tuesday, a suicide bomber targeted a U.S. convoy in the troubled northern city of Mosul, the second suicide attack against Americans operating there in three days. The bomber missed the Americans but killed an Iraqi and wounded 45, the military said.

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liz.sly@latimes.com


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