An Australian demining expert has been killed in Iraq after an explosion occurred in Kirkuk, Daquq. According to his employer, the person, whose identity has not been disclosed, was defusing bombs near the northern part of Iraq that has been recaptured by Kurdish forces from the Islamic State (IS)
"This morning, at around 10am local time, an uncontrolled explosion has tragically killed the Australian supervisor of a team of 30 national deminers during ongoing operations," his employer, the Swiss Foundation for Mine Action (FSD), an international non-government organisation, said according to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
"It was a bomb of 7 kilograms. If a bomb of 7 kilograms explodes in your vicinity, there is not much chance of surviving the blow," Hansjoerg Eberle, director general of the Geneva-based foundation, was quoted as saying by the publication.
The foundation is working with local authorities to send the body of the victim to his family in Australia.
"We take this kind of risk, clearing unexploded bombs, mines, improvised explosive devices left behind by the Islamic State. We go in and be the first to clear the ground and allow the villagers to rebuild their lives and to rebuild their villages," said Eberle.
"The gentleman was known to us as a very senior, very experienced, very safe operator. This is a complete shock to us, to his family and all who knew him. We are deeply concerned that it hit somehow the organisation right in the heart and I feel a lot for the family and his wife and the other family members who have now to live without him," Eberle added.
Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has issued an advisory against travelling to Iraq after news of the death of the demining expert came in. "It is strongly recommended that Australians do not travel to Iraq, where DFAT's capacity to provide consular assistance is extremely limited due to the challenging security situation," a spokesperson said.