Four U.S. Missionaries Killed in Iraq

Published March 16, 2004

| Associated Press

Four American relief workers were killed and one was wounded in a drive-by shooting Monday in the northern city of Mosul (search), the U.S. military said. Hospital officials said at least two of the dead were women.

The fifth American was being treated at a U.S. military hospital in Mosul.

The five were traveling in one car on the eastern side of the city when they were attacked, Lt. Col. Joseph Piek, a spokesman for American forces in Mosul, said in an e-mail.

An off-duty Iraqi policeman found the car shortly after the late afternoon shooting. Three of the Americans were dead and the two wounded were taken to an Iraqi hospital. U.S. Army air medevac helicopters later transported them to a combat support hospital in Mosul.

One of the two was then flown to a U.S. hospital in Baghdad (search), but died en route, Piek said.

The name of the fourth slain American and the injured victim were being withheld until family members had been contacted.

The five all worked for the Richmond, Va.-based Southern Baptist International Mission Board (search). The board indentified the dead as Larry T. Elliott, 60, and Jean Dover Elliott, 58, of Cary, N.C. and Karen Denise Watson, 38, of Bakersfield Calif.

"We do not know what the five U.S. citizens were doing at the time of the attack, but we do know they were in the Mosul area to deliver relief supplies," Piek said.

Iraqi police and the FBI were involved in the investigation.

The victims were attacked by two or three men in a car, witnesses said.

In Kirkuk, another northern city, an Arab member of the city council was gunned down along with his bodyguard as he drove to a meeting Monday, the second Iraqi official in the region to be killed in two days.

In Spain, the newly elected prime minister promised to withdraw the country's 1,300 troops from Iraq by June 30 unless the United Nations assumes control of peacekeeping. A U.S. coalition spokesman responded by saying Spain's role in Iraq had been critical to restoring order in Iraq.

"The Spaniards are performing heroically, and are critical to our efforts here," coalition spokesman Dan Senor said.

The new prime minister, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, vowed to pull out Spanish forces during the election campaign. The United States plans to turn over sovereignty to Iraq by June 30 but has no plans to cede control of the military operation to the United Nations.

Zapatero's Socialist party was propelled to an upset victory in elections Sunday by anger over terrorist attacks in Madrid last week that killed 200 people. Voters accused the outgoing prime minister, Jose Maria Aznar, of making Spain a target for terrorism by supporting the U.S.-led war in Iraq.

Spain leads the Plus Ultra brigade, a command that also includes forces from El Salvador, Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic. Eleven Spaniards have died in Iraq since August, including seven intelligence agents killed in an ambush in late November.

In Kirkuk, Aggar Al-Taweel was shot several times in the head as he drove to the weekly meeting of the council of the ethnically divided city, said police chief Torhan Yussif. His bodyguard was also killed.

The gunmen fired from a red car and sped off.

Al-Taweel, a Shiite who founded an Arab political party that later splintered, was known for his frank opinions and was often outspoken in council debates.

Arabs are at odds with Kurds, many of whom were displaced from their homes by Saddam Hussein's regime. Kurds want to make oil-rich Kirkuk the center of a Kurdish federal region in the new government.

In Mosul on Sunday, guerrillas raked a government convoy with gunfire, killing the regional secretary of labor and social affairs and his driver, U.S. Maj. Gen. Mark Kimmitt said.

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