Insurgents in Iraq Claim Convoy Attack

The Associated Press
Thursday, January 18, 2007; 9:15 PM

CAIRO, Egypt -- An al-Qaida-linked coalition of Iraqi Sunni insurgents claimed responsibility Thursday for an attack in Baghdad on a convoy of a Western democracy institute that killed a 28-year-old Ohio woman and three security contractors.

The Washington-based National Democratic Institute identified its slain staffer as Andrea Parhamovich of Perry, Ohio. Contractors from Hungary, Croatia and Iraq also were killed in the ambush Wednesday. Two other people were wounded, one seriously.

Parhamovich, a graduate of Marietta College in southeast Ohio, had been working with NDI in Iraq since late 2006 as a communications specialist advising Iraqi political parties on how to reach out to voters and constituents. She was helping "build the kind of national level political institutions that can help bridge the sectarian divide and improve Iraqi lives," NDI said.

In the rural neighborhood where Parhamovich's parents live, David Rolfes of NDI and Parhamovich's brother-in-law, Joe Zampini, stood at a church across the road and asked reporters not to approach the family's home. Zampini appealed for privacy and said the family was in seclusion.

The community of about 1,100 people, about 35 miles east of Cleveland, is known for its many flower nurseries and greenhouses that take up acres of land, as well as being home to a FirstEnergy Corp. nuclear power plant.

"It's a sad time," said Perry High School principal Doug Jenkins, the middle school principal when Parhamovich attended the senior high school.

Tom Perry, spokesman for Marietta College, knew Parhamovich when she worked in the liberal art school's media relations office as a student.

"So it hit us as hard as anybody here because we knew her so well," Perry said.

"We saw what an excellent person she was, and she obviously had a passion for something and wanted to go there and be a part of it," Perry said. "We're proud she wanted to do this. It shows it's not just the soldiers who are in harm's way."

Perry said Parhamovich, who was known as Andi, graduated in 2000 with a degree in advertising and public relations with a minor in journalism. She worked for film company Miramax in New York for a short time, he said.

A statement released by NDI said Parhamovich also worked in the Massachusetts governor's office, at Air America Radio and at the International Republican Institute in Iraq before joining NDI's Baghdad staff in late 2006.

NDI's chairman, former Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright, said, "There is no more sacred roll of honor than those who have given their last full measure in support of freedom. Yesterday, in Iraq, Andrea Parhamovich and our security personnel were enshrined on that list.

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