Embassy Aide Among 9 Americans Killed in Insurgent Attacks in Iraq

Iraqi soldiers examine a crater left by a mortar attack that injured at least four people in Baghdad. Elsewhere in Iraq, roadside bombs killed five U.S. soldiers.
Iraqi soldiers examine a crater left by a mortar attack that injured at least four people in Baghdad. Elsewhere in Iraq, roadside bombs killed five U.S. soldiers. (By Thaier Sudani -- Reuters)
By Jonathan Finer and Omar Fekeiki
Washington Post Foreign Service
Wednesday, September 21, 2005

BAGHDAD, Sept. 20 -- Nine Americans were killed in insurgent attacks across Iraq in the last two days, military and diplomatic sources said Tuesday. The dead included an embassy official and three security contractors killed Monday morning in a suicide car bombing in the northern city of Mosul.

Witnesses in Mosul said a lone driver smashed his red sedan into the second vehicle in a convoy of three sport-utility vehicles, triggering a fiery explosion. Security forces immediately cordoned the area and administered first aid, but the contractors and an assistant regional security officer, Stephen Eric Sullivan, had died instantly, according to a U.S. official in Baghdad who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Two others riding in the diplomatic convoy, which was leaving a U.S. Embassy satellite office, suffered minor injuries.

"Steve was a brave American, dedicated to his country and to a brighter future for the people of Iraq," Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said in a written statement. "Our thoughts and prayers are with Steve's family."

Sullivan, whose job involved coordinating security and overseeing contractors, was the third American diplomat killed since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. Diplomatic security agent Edward J. Seitz died in October in a mortar attack on a U.S. base near Baghdad International Airport. The following month, James Mollen, an American special adviser to Iraq's Higher Education and Scientific Research Ministry, was shot to death near the capital's fortified Green Zone.

Also Tuesday, the U.S. military announced the deaths of four soldiers in two roadside bombings in the city of Ramadi, 60 miles west of Baghdad, and the death of another soldier whose vehicle was hit by a roadside bomb 75 miles north of the capital. The soldiers' names were not released.

According to the Pentagon, 1,902 U.S. service members, including civilian employees of the Defense Department, have been killed in Iraq since the March 2003 invasion.

The recent rash of violence against Americans came as British and Iraqi officials offered widely contrasting public accounts of the circumstances that led to clashes Monday between British soldiers and Iraqi police in Basra, Iraq's second-largest city. A British armored vehicle smashed into a police station in an attempt to force the release of two British soldiers who had been detained.

Haider Abadi, a spokesman for Prime Minister Ibrahim Jafari, called the British actions "very unfortunate" and said police had acted correctly in detaining the men, who were behaving "very suspiciously." They were wearing civilian clothes and asking for information in the streets, he said, but would not elaborate.

"We hoped they would solve this problem with the central government," Abadi said. "But the British forces decided to act individually, and the military operation to release the detainees happened the way we saw it. This is wrong, and it is not a healthy way to deal with problems."

Throughout the day, Iraqi and other Arab television stations broadcast images of the two British men, clad in dark pants and T-shirts, seated in front of a table bearing what appeared to be a large quantity of weapons and ammunition purportedly discovered in their possession. One man had scrapes and small cuts on his head and the side of his face.

Brig. John Lorimer said in a written statement that under Iraqi law, the police were required to hand over the men to coalition forces, an outcome he said he and the British consul general had sought to negotiate.

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