BAGHDAD (Reuters) - A British national hired to clear mines planted by Islamic State in the western Iraqi city of Ramadi was killed on Monday in a work-related incident, his U.S. employer said.
His death, the first of a Western de-mining expert in the city, highlights the challenge of making territory safe for civilians once it’s recaptured from the militants, who have been pushed off of more than half the areas they seized in Iraq two years ago.
A statement from Janus Global Operations did not name the victim, whom it said was killed in an worksite “incident” that is now under investigation. Another Briton suffered minor injuries, it said.
The company is helping Iraqis remove explosive ordinance and improvised explosive devices (IEDs) left by Islamic State before U.S.-backed Iraqi forces retook the city, 100 km (60 miles) west of Baghdad, in December.
Hundreds of IEDs planted on Ramadi’s streets and buildings have delayed the return of thousands of residents. A shortage of Iraqis trained in dismantling the explosives has slowed efforts to restore security. Several Iraqi technicians have previously been killed by snipers.
The United States, Norway and other countries in the international coalition battling Islamic State militants in Iraq and neighboring Syria contracted with Janus earlier this year to help the cash-strapped Iraqi government rehabilitate Ramadi.
The British embassy in Baghdad said it was in contact with Janus about Monday’s incident but offered no further details.
Reporting by Stephen Kalin; Editing by Larry King