Two South Koreans were killed and two others wounded in an ambush in Iraq on Sunday, the South Korean Foreign Affairs and Trade Ministry said Monday.
The two dead, who were electricians working for a South Korean company contracted to a US firm, were shot to dead at around 2 p.m. while riding in a car to former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's hometown Tikrit.
President Roh Moo Hyun blasted the attack against the South Korean civilians as an "intolerably inhumane action."
In a meeting of cabinet and top presidential staff, Roh expressed condolences to the bereaved families and ordered thorough steps be taken to protect South Koreans working in Iraq.
The two dead, identified by Yonhap News Agency as Kim Man Soo, 46, and Kwak Kyung Hae, 61, and the two wounded, identified as Lee Sang Won and Im Dae Shik, were going to Tikrit to build a power transmission tower at the time of the attack, acting South Korean Ambassador to Iraq Sohn Se Joo told Yonhap by telephone.
The two wounded were taken to a US hospital in Iraq for treatment.
The attack on the South Koreans followed the killing Saturday of two Japanese diplomats on the same highway.
The incidents are seen as attempts by Iraqi insurgents to intimidate US allies and discourage their participation in postwar reconstruction.
Roh committed his country in October to dispatching additional troops to help the US-led coalition forces rebuild war-ravaged Iraq.
But Roh has not yet finalized the dispatch, because it is politically extremely sensitive, particularly amid the worsening security situation in Iraq.
(People’s Daily December 1, 2003)