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Iraq

As Iraqi power deal nears, two Americans killed

Associated Press
Published March 14, 2005


BAGHDAD - Kurdish leaders said they were near a final agreement Sunday with the majority Shiites to form a coalition government when Iraq's first democratically elected parliament convenes Wednesday.

Further talks are slated in Baghdad today. The deal calls for Jalal Talabani, a Kurdish leader, to be named president. Conservative Islamic Dawa Party leader Ibrahim al-Jaafari, of the Shiite majority, would become prime minister.

Interim Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, a Kurd, said a Kurdish delegation was to meet with the Shiite-dominated United Iraqi Alliance again today, emphasizing that a final agreement was close.

But as the country neared a political landmark many hoped would set the stage for a U.S. withdrawal, two American security contractors were killed and a third was wounded in a roadside bombing south of Baghdad.

The three worked for Blackwater Security, a North Carolina-based firm that provides security for U.S. State Department officials and facilities in Iraq. They were attacked on the main road to Hillah, south of Baghdad, according to Bob Callahan, a U.S. Embassy spokesman.

In Mosul, 225 miles north of Baghdad, U.S. and Iraqi troops killed five insurgents in street fighting, the military said. Three other people, a woman and two children, were killed inadvertently when an American helicopter gunship fired at insurgents, according to Mosul's Al-Jumhuri Teaching Hospital.

The military said at least five Iraqis were wounded in the incident, which occurred when a patrolling helicopter was fired on by insurgents in four cars. The U.S. helicopter returned fire, destroying three of the cars, and U.S. officials said the incident was under investigation.

In other violence reported Sunday, a U.S. soldier was gunned down late the day before in an insurgent attack in Mosul.

The death brought to at least 1,514 the number U.S. military personnel lost since the beginning of the Iraq war in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count.

[Last modified March 14, 2005, 01:29:07]


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