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Civilian contractor deaths in Iraq more than triple in 13 months; U.S. understates Halliburton employee deaths
1 Nov. 2005

WASHINGTON, Nov. 1 (HalliburtonWatch.org) -- Deaths of civilian contractors in Iraq have more than tripled in the last 13 months, according to an analysis by the Knight-Ridder news service.

In an article titled, "Civilian contractors in Iraq dying at faster rate as insurgency grows," Knight-Ridder cited U.S. Labor Department figures showing 428 civilian contractors have been killed and another 3,963 injured.

But those figures apparently understate the true number of civilian deaths in Iraq, according to Knight-Ridder. For example, Halliburton reported a higher casualty rate for its employees than was reported by the Labor Department.

The Labor Department claims that only 30 Halliburton employees have been killed and 2,471 injured. But a Halliburton spokeswoman, Melissa Norcross, told Knight-Ridder that the company had lost a total of 77 workers in Iraq, Afghanistan and its base in Kuwait. Although the company refused to give a casualty rate for each country, the bulk of the deaths most likely occurred in Iraq, not Kuwait and Afghanistan.

The casualty rate for all contractors is increasing. In the first 21 months of the war, 11 contractors were killed and 74 were injured each month on average, reported Knight-Ridder. This year, the monthly average death toll is nearly 20 and the average monthly number of injured is 243.

According to Knight-Ridder, "The dead and injured come from many walks of life, drawn by money and patriotism. Some are American citizens. Most are not. They are truckers, police officers and translators. They're counted only if they were paid by companies hired by the Pentagon."

The article quoted a truck driver for Halliburton, Keven Dagit, who told his mother on the day before he was killed that, "Now, it's really getting dangerous." He left two daughters, ages 9 and 11.

"I want more people to realize that these guys are out there defenseless," his mother, Gloria Dagit, said. "It was an ambush .... They are not allowed to carry weapons."

Over 75,000 civilian employees are working for U.S. contractors in Iraq.

Read Knight-Ridder's full report by clicking here.