- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 18, 2006

BAGHDAD — A roadside bomb hit a convoy carrying a U.S. security team near the southern city of Basra yesterday, killing two American civilians and seriously wounding a third, the U.S. Embassy said.

Meanwhile, Iraqi authorities held out hope that kidnapped American journalist Jill Carroll would be released, and the sister of Iraq’s interior minister was freed by her abductors about two weeks after being seized in Baghdad, an official said.

Six security guards and three drivers also were killed when their convoy was attacked by heavily armed insurgents in western Baghdad. Iraqna, a cell phone company owned by Egyptian-giant Orascom, said the convoy was attacked in the capital’s Nafaq al-Shurta area, and the fate of the two engineers — who it said were from Kenya — was unknown.

But in a gruesome development, Iraqi police said militants had set up a killing field in an area north of Baghdad near where a U.S. Army AH-64 Apache helicopter was shot down earlier this week, slaying more than 40 people on remote roads that Iraqis were forced to use after U.S. forces blocked roads to the crash site.

Police said drivers were dragged from their cars at crude checkpoints erected on the back roads and shot execution-style in a farming district about 50 miles from Baghdad.

Security contractor DynCorp International, based in Irving, Texas, confirmed that two of its employees who were assisting with Iraqi police training were killed in the Basra strike.

“We can confirm that the two men were DynCorp employees who were involved in the training of Iraqi police.” DynCorp spokesman Gregory Lagana said.

The company identified the two men as Richard Thomas Hickman, 52, of Cave Spring, Ga., and Roland Carroll Barvels, 42, of Aberdeen, S.D.

The U.S. Embassy said a joint American-Iraqi investigation is under way to try to find Miss Carroll, 28, a freelance writer for the Christian Science Monitor.

Miss Carroll was seen in a video shown on an Arab TV station late Tuesday for the first time since her Jan. 7 abduction in Baghdad.

Arab broadcaster Al Jazeera said the silent 20-second video included a threat to kill her in 72 hours if U.S. authorities didn’t release all Iraqi women in military custody. U.S. military spokeswoman Sgt. Stacy Simon said eight Iraqi women are being detained.

Miss Carroll was abducted in one of Baghdad’s most dangerous neighborhoods after she was driven to meet a Sunni Arab politician, who failed to appear for the interview. Miss Carroll’s translator was killed.

“The Monitor is undertaking strenuous efforts on Jill’s behalf, taking advantage of every opportunity we have at our disposal,” said David Cook, the newspaper’s Washington bureau chief.

In the resolution of another kidnapping, the sister of Interior Minister Bayan Jabr was released and was at home, said Ali al-Khaqani, a secretary to Mr. Jabr. She was abducted Jan. 3 in an attack in which one bodyguard was killed and another was seriously injured.

A U.S. soldier based in Baghdad also died of noncombat-related wounds Tuesday, the military said.

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