CHELSEA J. CARTER
Associated Press Writer
BAGHDAD (AP) — Two Americans have been killed in separate incidents inside Baghdad's fortified Green Zone, U.S. and Iraqi officials said Saturday, raising concerns about its security as Iraq's forces assume more control over the sprawling district.
The body of an American contractor was found Friday in a vehicle in the Green Zone, and another contractor was killed by a rocket attack that night near the American Embassy, a U.S. military official said.
The two deaths come as the Iraqi government has begun tearing down the protective blast walls surrounding the Green Zone, which houses a number of government ministries as well as the American Embassy.
Iraq assumed control of the zone under a U.S.-Iraqi security pact that took effect Jan. 1. The U.S. continues to provide its own security in key areas, such as near the embassy and at the small military base inside.
Iraqi police officers discovered the body of the slain American in a parked car and notified the U.S. military, an Iraqi military official told The Associated Press. He did not have further details on the killing. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the press.
The U.S. military would not comment on a Washington Post report Saturday that the man had been bound, blindfolded and stabbed multiple times. The newspaper quoted a U.S. official familiar with the investigation into the killing. The paper did not identify the official by name because, it said, he was not authorized to release the information.
The Iraqi official also would not comment on the newspaper's report.
The victim's brother identified him as Jim Kitterman, 60, of Houston. Kitterman was president of Janus Construction, a small company based in the Green Zone and had worked in Iraq for about six years.
Kitterman's brother, Cliff, said he was notified Friday by the government but did not want to talk about any details he had been given about his brother's death.
"I know some things, but it's speculation right now," he told The Associated Press.
The U.S. military would not confirm the identity or release details about the killing while the investigation was under way.
The second American was killed when a rocket struck the Green Zone Friday at 8:15 p.m., said military spokesman Maj. Jose A. Lopez.
Since the Green Zone was established shortly after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion, it has been repeatedly shelled or hit by suicide attackers and car bombs.
Also Saturday, the U.S. military said an American soldier died Friday in a noncombat incident in Baghdad province.
A military statement said the incident was under investigation. No further details were provided. The name of the soldier has not been released pending notification of next of kin.
At least 4,300 members of the U.S. military have died in the Iraq war, 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.
Associated Press Writer Sameer N. Yacoub in Baghdad and Jamie Stengle in Dallas contributed to this report.
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.