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Iraq Mortar Attack Kills 1 Filipino Worker, 4 Wounded - 2004-05-12


One Filipino worker was killed and four others wounded during a mortar attack on a U.S. army base in northern Iraq. Earlier reports said four had died in the attack late Tuesday.

Philippine President Gloria Arroyo ordered diplomats to re-assess the security of all Filipino civilians working on U.S. military installations in Iraq following the attack. She says if citizens cannot be secured adequately, they must be transferred or evacuated to safer areas.

The mortar attack occurred late Tuesday at Camp Anaconda in northern Iraq .

The Philippines is a strong supporter of the U.S. war on terrorism and sent a small military contingent to Iraq following the ouster of Saddam Hussein last year. In addition, about 3,000 Filipino civilians are working there, nearly half of them at Camp Anaconda.

A Philippine Foreign Affairs spokeswoman says the victims were employed by a Dubai company contracted by the U.S. military.

President Arroyo had earlier banned local employment agencies from sending citizens to Iraq, as violence mounted in April. Hundreds of thousands of Filipinos are employed as manual laborers in the Middle East and are a vital source of foreign exchange for the impoverished Asian nation.

Philippine officials had visited the U.S. camp three times before the incident and ensured that Filipino workers were housed in protected underground bunkers.

The Philippines is awaiting the result of a tight presidential race between President Arroyo and her rival, actor Fernando Poe Junior. On Wednesday, opposition groups warned of street protests if there is massive fraud uncovered in Monday's national elections.

Preliminary results from an independent poll monitor show Mr. Poe leading Ms. Arroyo, but another pollster predicts an Arroyo victory. The final results will not be known for weeks.

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