Russian construction company set to withdraw all of its workers from Iraq

A Russian construction company is to withdraw all its workers Iraq following a fatal attack on its staff.

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By  Rhys Jones Published  June 4, 2004

A Russian company helping to rebuild power facilities in Iraq is to withdraw all its workers from the country following a fatal attack on its staff. Two Russians were killed and six wounded when a bus taking them to work was fired on and a senior executive of the company, Interenergoservis, said a plane was being sent to evacuate the remaining workers. Alexander Yakovenko, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman said the contractors were on their way to work at the al-Dawra power station. They were fired on by masked gunmen as they approached the gates of the compound. Russia is not part of the US-led coalition, but has many workers in Iraq trying to restore the energy sector and Russian experts have played a major role in reviving the Iraqi energy industry and other infrastructure. Last month Moscow evacuated some 365 citizens of ex-Soviet countries from Iraq after a spate of kidnappings of foreign nationals. Around 300 workers chose to stay behind - the great majority of who were Interenergoservis workers despite Russian calls for its citizens to leave. “The Russian Foreign Ministry has given warnings more than once ...that the situation in Iraq is highly unstable ... and that being in this country in the present circumstances is fraught with the most serious risk,” said a Russian Foreign Ministry statement. A worker from Interenergoservis died earlier in Iraq, in a 10 May ambush in which two colleagues were kidnapped and released a week later. Furthermore, three Russian and five Ukrainian employees of the company were kidnapped last month but released the next day. Interenergoservis has evacuated 109 employees, which is about a third of its workforce, after the kidnappings, but many workers had vowed to stay in Iraq despite government warnings.

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