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Uranium suspected in Iraq merc's death

Dec. 29, 2005 at 9:48 AM
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BAGHDAD, Dec. 29 (UPI) -- The death of a Peruvian security guard who had worked in Iraq may have been caused by exposure to depleted uranium.

Wilder Gutierrez Rubio, 38, died a few hours after arriving in Lima, Peru, on Dec. 6. Days before, he had been diagnosed with severe leukemia at Ibn Sina Hospital in Baghdad and immediately flown back to his home country, World Socialist Web Site.Org reported Wednesday.

WSWS.org said Gutierrez was part of a 200-man Peruvian contingent sent to Iraq in early October to provide security for Baghdad's Green Zone. It is widely suspected in Peru that Gutierrez's leukemia was the result of exposure to high levels of uranium in Iraq, the site said.

Gutierrez was one of more than 1,000 Latin Americans recruited by U.S. private security contractors to work in different countries.

Since the U.S. invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, about 20,000 people have been hired to work as private security contractors, WSWS.org said. This figure represented one private security guard for every seven uniformed American soldiers in these regions. In all, $30 billion was spent by the U.S. Government on private security contractors in 2004, the Web site said.

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