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American contractor death toll nears 800 in Iraq

More than 770 civilians working for US contractors have died in Iraq since the US-led invasion began in March 2003

More than 770 civilians working for US contractors have died in Iraq since the US-led invasion began in March 2003.

According to the latest statistics from the US Department of Labour, fatalities among civilian contractors employed by US firms escalated rapidly in 2006, with 301 dying, including 124 in the final three months of the year.

The contractor death toll rose in January when five Americans working for Blackwater USA were killed in Baghdad after their helicopter was shot down by insurgents. Besides those killed, a further 7,761 civilian contractors have been injured.

 

The death toll is tracked by the department on the basis of claims under an insurance policy called the Defense Base Act, which all US government contractors and subcontractors working outside the US must provide for their civilian employees.

According to Pentagon estimates, 100,000 civilians are employed by US contractors in Iraq.

Halliburton's KBR is the largest military contractor operating in Iraq, with more than 50,000 employees and subcontractors working there, as well as in Kuwait and Afghanistan.

The company claims that 95 of its employees and subcontractors have been killed in Iraq, Kuwait and Afghanistan.

Despite almost US $18.4 billion (IQD23.6 trillion) being spent on reconstruction projects in Iraq, efforts have been blighted by continued insurgency and alleged corruption.

US-based Bechtel pulled out last November after witnessing the death of 52 workers and the wounding of 49.

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