Another "milestone"

Published December 22, 2004 2:23PM (EST)

Because of "security costs," the first major contractor backs out of the reconstruction job in Iraq:

"At one point, Contrack and its joint venture had hired nearly 2,000 people in Iraq and had offices in an upper-income neighborhood in Baghdad, said Wahid Hakki, Contrack's vice president for U.S. operations."

"But as the insurgency intensified, company workers found themselves increasingly under assault. Small-arms and mortar fire became common at construction sites. Gunmen attacked the joint venture's headquarters about 2 1/2 months ago."

"Earlier this year, an Egyptian driver working for the firm was kidnapped. His body was found 12 days later, dumped outside one of the company's construction sites with five bullet holes in the head. A note found on his body said 'collaborator.'"

By Geraldine Sealey

Geraldine Sealey is senior news editor at

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