U.S. contractor killed in Iraq while clearing area of mines, officials say

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By Patrick Smith and Reuters  with NBC News World News
Image: The Tigris River separates Mosul, Iraq, on June 29, 2017.
The Tigris River separates Mosul, Iraq, seen here in 2017.   -  Copyright  Felipe Dana

An American working to clear mines and unexploded ordinance left from battles with the Islamic State near the northern Iraqi city of Mosul has been killed, according to local Iraqi security officials.

NBC News confirmed the death with Col. Bahaa al-Azawi, from Nineveh Operation Command.

"An American contractor who works with a foreign de-mining company was killed while he was defusing an IED in Qayyara, southern Mosul, Nineveh Province," he said on Tuesday, referring to an improvised explosive device.

Police and security sources said he was part of a team working for the Swiss Foundation for Mine Action.

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A initial report for the incident seen by Reuters said the worker was trying to defuse "unexploded ordnance body which suddenly went off and killed the him immediately."

Two security sources and one police official confirmed the worker was an American citizen. They declined to release his name or other details. The FSD did not respond to email from Reuters.

Iraq declared victory over ISIS, which once held large swathes of the country, in December 2017. The United Nations said in February it could take many years to clear Mosul of hazards such as improvised explosive devices left by retreating Islamic State fighters.