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Attacks on U.S. supply convoys in Iraq rise: report
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07:25, July 10, 2007

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Attacks on U.S. supply convoys protected by private security companies in Iraq have more than tripled as the U.S. government depends more on armed civilian guards to secure reconstruction and other missions.

There were 869 such attacks from the beginning of June 2006 to the end of May this year. For the preceding 12 months, there were 281 attacks, the USA Today newspaper reported Monday.

Deaths and injuries during such attacks increased to 206 from 157 during the same time, according to the Army Corps of Engineers' Logistics Movement Control Center. Most of those convoys carry U.S.-funded reconstruction supplies for the Iraqi government.

Guarding convoys is one aspect of the work done in Iraq by private companies, which was once done by the military. Private firms also protect diplomats and staff checkpoints at U.S. military facilities.

The Private Security Company Association of Iraq, a trade group, estimates there are about 30,000 security company employees, of which 3,000 to 5,000 are Westerners. About 15,000 are Iraqis, and the rest are other foreigners.

The increase in attacks partly reflects the growing number of convoys carrying equipment purchased for Iraqis and a greater effort by the U.S. military to track their movements.

There are 20 to 30 convoys daily, said Jack Holly, logistics director for the Army Corps of Engineers' Gulf Region Division, compared with 10 to 15 a year ago.

From August 2004 to the end of this May, he said, 138 private security workers have been killed on convoys. An additional 451 have been wounded. Holly attributed the increase to more roadside bombs and car bombs.

Private contractors are allowed to fire their weapons in self-defense but cannot mount offensive operations.

Pentagon records showed overall attacks on coalition forces in Iraq rose sharply this year, from roughly 400 a week in February-May 2006 to more than 750 a week in the same period this year.

Source: Xinhua

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