Three Americans, including a State Department employee, were killed by a roadside bomb that struck a convoy in Iraq's western Anbar province, the U.S. military said Tuesday.
The blast killed a U.S. soldier, a State Department official and a civilian contractor working for the Defense Department as their convoy headed through Fallujah to a nearby construction site on Monday, the military said. Two others were wounded.
The Associated Press reports that Terry Barnich, deputy director for the Iraq Transition Assistance Office, was the State Department official killed.
Barnich, 56, was a former Illinois Commerce Commission chairman and also had worked as chief counsel to former Gov. Jim Thompson.
Barnich's sister, Rochelle Barnich, described her brother as a person with a great sense of humor who had great pride in his country and had been interesting in politics since they were children.
Like many cities in Iraq, there are a number of U.S.-funded or backed reconstruction projects, many of them aimed at improving essential services as well as promoting businesses.
American military and government officials see the projects as essential to helping maintain security gains in the region. Some of the projects are overseen by provisional reconstruction teams, a joint U.S. civil-military office, and others are overseen by the State Department's U.S. Agency for International Development.
Insurgents once held sway over Anbar, which was the scene of some of the deadliest fighting of the war. But violence fell off dramatically after Sunni fighters turned on al Qaeda in Iraq and joined U.S. forces in what has become known in Iraq as "the Awakening."
Insurgents, though, have continued to sporadically target American and Iraqi security forces in Fallujah, where four Blackwater employees were ambushed in 2004 by insurgents and their remains strung from a bridge.
The U.S. military has withdrawn from most of the cities in the vast Anbar province, including Fallujah.
The military said the identities were being withheld pending notification of next of kin.
As of Monday, May 25, 2009, at least 4,301 members of the U.S. military had died in the Iraq war since it began in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count.
The figure includes eight military civilians killed in action. At least 3,443 military personnel died as a result of hostile action, according to the military's numbers.