Monday, July 16, 2007

Contractors Killed Leaving Iraq

Originally uploaded by Sydney Weasel
'Australia lost a leader' is how a fellow colleague described the tragedy.

* Two Australian private contractors killed in Iraq
* Convoy was hit by explosion, then a "projectile"
* Contractors were leaving the country for holidays


Anonymous said...

Two Australian contractors die in Iraq
AN Australian security contractor killed in Iraq yesterday was a dedicated man and a good leader, according to a friend who worked with him in the war torn country.

Two Australians, a 38-year-old man from north Queensland and a 34-year-old man from south Queensland, were killed in a roadside explosion eight kilometres south of Baghdad about 8am (AEST) yesterday.

The men – one a former soldier, the other a former policeman – worked for security firm BLP International, which has been training Iraqi forces.

A third Australian injured in the blast has been released from hospital. Foreign affairs parliamentary secretary Greg Hunt said he suffered a range of shrapnel and blast injuries but was in a "reasonable" condition.

A friend of one of the dead men, who also worked for BLP, today said his mate had been "very dedicated" to his work.

"Like a lot of the guys who went over there, obviously, you're in a war zone. There was an inherent risk of going to places like that, but he was a tremendous trainer and a good leader," the man, who wanted to be known only as Jim, told ABC radio today.

Jim said his friend had been in Iraq a little less than 12 months and had been due to return to Australia on rotation soon.

Asked whether he felt the money was worth the risk of working in Iraq, Jim said: "It's always in times like this you do a bit of self-examination and you'll say: 'No it isn't'.

"But at the time, you think you're doing the right thing. In fact you are doing the right thing.

"You are making a difference in a country that's totally in turmoil."

Jim said security contractors were always aware of the risks.

"It was one of those things that every time you made a road run and everything went well you'd wipe your forehead, say thank you very much and then move on to the next time.

"But you always knew in the back of your mind that that risk was there."

Jim said it was impossible to prepare for such attacks.

"Unfortunately, terrorists are very good at planning and waiting, and it's that old saying that they've only got to be right one per cent of the time and the rest of the world has got to be right 100 per cent of the time," he said.

The three Australians were part of a convoy making their way out of the war-torn country for holidays when their vehicle was struck by the blasts.

"My understanding is that they were in a vehicle, the vehicle was stopped by a first explosion, they transferred to second another vehicle and the second vehicle was then hit by some form of projectile," Mr Hunt said.

Six Australian contractors have now been killed in the Iraqi conflict.

Anonymous said...

Aussie killed in Iraq was a new father
By Jade Bilowol
ONE of two Australian private contractors killed by a roadside bomb in Baghdad had become a father just over three weeks ago, his grief-stricken family said today.

Former Queensland police officer Brendan Hurst, 38, believed to be from Brisbane, and former soldier and fellow Queenslander Justin Saint, 34, died in a blast yesterday about eight kilometres from Iraq's capital.

Mr Hurst's parents, Graham and Annette Hurst, today issued a statement on behalf of the family, saying they were ``grief-stricken and in deep shock''.

"Brendan ... has three brothers and one sister and only a little over three weeks ago his partner gave birth to a baby boy,'' the statement said.

His parents said their son was "always a giver to others'' who proudly served the Queensland Police Service before leaving late last year to take up a position as a training manager in an Iraqi police training school.

"As we try to accept the news that none of us want to believe we are remembering this wonderful man who was such an important part of all our lives,'' the statement said.

"Each of us who knew and loved Brendan are suffering deeply today as we try to come to terms with the news of his death.

"Brendan touched us all in different ways, we were so proud of him and loved him dearly.''

Mr and Mrs Hurst said their son started his career with the police in 1988 and progressed to the rank of sergeant, working in Brisbane and in Townsville.

"He loved his years policing, in particular the training of others and the many, many friends he made along the way,'' the statement said.

"Brendan was also a qualified teacher and at one stage during his policing days he took long service leave to travel to England to teach children with behavioural problems - as we said he always gave to others.''

Mr Saint's family, speaking from Townsville, wished to grieve in private and did not want to comment when contacted by media today.

Queensland Premier Peter Beattie today passed his condolences on to the two families.

"What I gather today was they were well respected both in the police and armed services and it's a dangerous business in Iraq but they were just trying to earn a living,'' Mr Beattie said.

The two men and a third Australian injured in the blast - who was taken to a Baghdad hospital and has since been discharged - were part of a convoy making their way out of the troubled country for holidays when their vehicle was struck.

Foreign Affairs Parliamentary secretary Greg Hunt said the men had transferred vehicles after one bomb went off on the road about 1.50am (7.50am AEST) yesterday morning Iraqi time.

"The vehicle carrying the Australians was stopped by an explosive device, they then changed vehicles and it was in a second vehicle as they left that they were struck by some form of projectile, a rocket propelled grenade or something similar,'' Mr Hunt told Sky News.

"It was a carefully planned, ruthlessly executed attack which was intended to bring lethal outcomes and sadly it did.''

Another colleague from the Philippines was also injured.

Six Australian contractors have now been killed in the Iraqi conflict.