Gunmen ambush Iraqi oil refinery workers and steal $300,000 company payroll

By Barbara Surk, AP
Monday, August 23, 2010

Gunmen kill 5 Iraqi oil workers, steal payroll

BAGHDAD — Gunmen in Iraq ambushed a car carrying five oil refinery employees transporting the company payroll on Monday, killing them and fleeing with $300,000 in cash, officials said.

The attack just outside Saddam Hussein’s hometown of Tikrit hit the employees after they had picked up the payroll for the Haditha refinery in western Iraq from the main refining headquarters in Beiji, 155 miles (250 kilometers) north of Baghdad, police said.

Three accountants, an engineer and a driver were killed, said an official with the main refinery in Beiji. Hospital officials in Tikrit confirmed the death toll.

The incident was the latest in a growing number of criminal attacks many believe are part of insurgent efforts to raise funds.

On Sunday, gunmen in western Baghdad held up a car carrying five employees of the Veterinary College outside a bank until they handed over the college’s $600,000 payroll, police officials said. There were no casualties.

All officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.

Recent bank robberies and attacks on gold jewelers and money changers across Iraq have raised suspicions al-Qaida-linked insurgents are seeking to replenish their coffers for attacks.

While violence has subsided significantly in Iraq since 2008, attacks still occur on a daily basis as the U.S. military ends its combat mission next week.

Two people were killed in separate attacks around Baghdad on Monday and more than a dozen were wounded, police said. In of the bombings, attackers threw a grenade from a car in the eastern neighborhood of New Baghdad, killing a policeman, a security official said.

In the northern Kazimiyah neighborhood, a bomb attached to a car killed an Iraqi military intelligence officer.

The violence took place a week before the deadline for all but 50,000 U.S. troops to be out of Iraq — a military drawdown that has raised fears the country’s shaky security situation will worsen.

Associated Press Writer Saad Abdul-Kadir contributed to this report in Baghdad.

(This version CORRECTS overall number of people killed Monday).)

will not be displayed