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Australia Apologizes for Bodyguard’s Death

June 22, 2006

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) _ The Australian government apologized Thursday for the killings of a bodyguard for the Iraqi trade minister and a civilian by security forces protecting the Australian ambassador, an Iraqi official said.

The shootings took place Wednesday in the Trade Ministry parking lot when Australian Ambassador Howard Brown was entering the building for a meeting. His bodyguards mistakenly opened fire, thinking they were threatened by security guards for Trade Minister Abdul-Falah al-Sudani.

One of the minister’s bodyguards was killed along with a civilian. Three other guards were wounded.

Ministry spokesman Mohamed Hanon said Brown telephoned al-Sudani to apologize and to express the Australian government’s condolences to the families of the victims.

That then prompted al-Sudani to drop his insistence that the Iraqi government suspend all trade with Australia.

Defense Force Vice Chief Lt. Gen. Ken Gillespie confirmed Australian security personnel were involved in the shooting, and vowed the incident would be ``formally and fully investigated.″

``The security detachment was conducting routine security duties when this incident occurred,″ Gillespie said in a statement, adding that his department ``deeply regrets the injuries and loss of life that has occurred.″

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