Govt confirms two SA men killed near Green Zone

Two South Africans were killed and two injured in a suicide bombing in Iraq on Monday, the Department of Foreign Affairs confirmed on Tuesday.

“The department regrettably confirms the death of two South Africans and the injury of two others yesterday [Monday] in Baghdad,” spokesperson Ronnie Mamoepa said.

“This follows verification through our diplomatic missions in Kuwait and Jordan, as well as consultations with their employer DynCorp International.”

The department had been in contact with the men’s families to advise them of the events and “to express our heartfelt condolences”, Mamoepa said.

He declined to name the four, saying this was the prerogative of their families.

The Beeld newspaper named the two dead men as Naas du Preez (36) from Randfontein, and Johannes Potgieter (53) from KwaZulu-Natal.

The fate of the injured men was not known.

DynCorp could not immediately be reached for further information.

Mamoepa said the latest deaths brought to 17 the number of South Africans killed in the war in Iraq.

Agence France Presse reported that the two South African contractors were killed when a suicide bomber blew up a booby-trapped car outside the Green Zone, a high-security area in Baghdad.

The blast occurred near a main entrance to the heavily fortified Green Zone, home to the United States and British embassies and to Iraqi government offices.

One witness said the bomber rammed into the last of three civilian sports utility vehicles travelling in a convoy, the news agency reported.

Such vehicles are commonly used by security contractors to transport high-ranking officials.

The blast killed two South African contractors and injured three others inside the car, US embassy spokesperson Elizabeth Colton said.

DynCorp is a US-based “multi-faceted professional services and project management company”, according to its website.

It has provided military and civilian support to governments for nearly 60 years.

Since 1994, the company says, it has recruited, trained and deployed more than 5 000 civilian peacekeepers and police trainers to 11 countries—including Haiti, Bosnia, Afghanistan and Iraq—for the US state department. - Sapa

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