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White House Vows to Stay Course in Iraq Despite Killings - 2004-04-01

The United States says Wednesday's grisly killing of four American civilian workers in the Iraqi town of Fallujah will not change the U.S. mission in the country.

The top American administrator in Iraq, Paul Bremer, vowed to bring to justice the killers, saying their deaths will not go unpunished.

Speaking a graduation ceremony for police cadets in Baghdad Thursday, Mr. Bremer said, what he called, the "despicable and inexcusable" acts will not derail the march toward stability and democracy in Iraq.

Earlier, White House spokesman Scott McClellan said those behind the attacks are trying to prevent democracy from moving forward in Iraq. But he added they "can not shake the will of the United States."

Television footage showed Iraqis kicking and beating the burned and dismembered corpses, dragging the bodies through the streets and hanging at least two on a bridge.

The American civilians were identified as employees of a U.S.-based company that provides security for coalition personnel.

Meanwhile, a U.S. military convoy was reported hit by a roadside bomb blast near Fallujah Thursday. Witnesses said one vehicle was in flames. There were no reports of casualties. The U.S. military said it could not confirm the attack.

On Wednesday, five U.S. troops were killed when their vehicle ran over a roadside bomb in a small town north of Fallujah.