A roadside bomb struck a US convoy in western Iraq, killing three Americans, including a senior State Department official, US officials said Tuesday. The blast killed Terence Barnich, the deputy director of the State Department's Iraq Transition Assistance Office in Baghdad, as well as a US soldier and a civilian contractor as their convoy left a construction site near Fallujah on Monday, military and government officials said.
Two others were wounded. The contractor killed in Monday's blast was a Defense Department employee assigned to the US Embassy in Baghdad, US officials said. His name and that of the soldier killed have not been released pending notification of next of kin.
Barnich, 56, of Chicago, and the others were returning from an inspection of a US government-funded wastewater treatment plant under construction in Fallujah when their vehicle drove over a roadside bomb, said State Department spokesman Robert Wood.
Like many cities in Iraq, Fallujah has a number of US-supported reconstruction projects, many of them aimed at improving essential services and promoting businesses.
American military and government officials see the projects as essential to helping maintain security gains.
Some of the projects are overseen by provisional reconstruction teams and a joint US civil-military office. Others are directed by the State Department's US Agency for International Development.
Barnich and the others were working with local Iraqi authorities on the wastewater project, which is the largest of its kind ever undertaken in Iraq, Wood said.
"The goal is to bring help to the people in war-torn Anbar province," Wood said.
Barnich was hired in 2007 as deputy director of the Iraq Transition Assistance Office in Baghdad. He also served as the former chairman of the Illinois Commerce Commission, Wood said.
Barnich originally planned to work in Iraq only 11 months, but he loved the work, Craig Clausen, a colleague of Barnich, told AP. He said Barnich had been expected to return to his job as CEO of the Chicago-based consulting firm New Paradigm Resources Group in July.