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Last Updated: Friday, 9 April, 2004, 19:51 GMT 20:51 UK
Security worker killed in Iraq
Michael Bloss
Michael Bloss was killed while protecting electrical contractors
A former British soldier working for a US security company has been shot dead during an ambush in Iraq.

Michael John Bloss, 38, originally from Bridgend in south Wales, was killed while guarding electrical workers near the town of Hit, west of Baghdad.

Mr Bloss, formerly of the Parachute Regiment, was working for Virginia-based security firm, Custer Battles.

His father Peter Bloss, who called the loss "devastating", said his son's body would be flown home next week.

Ambush

Mr Bloss told BBC Radio Wales: "I was told by the company director that he was working with a group of electrical workers repairing overhead lines.

"An incident happened on Thursday evening, Mike got the contractors to safety but was then shot himself. Like everybody else I'm assuming it was rebels active in Iraq."

Mr Bloss had not been told by his son Michael that he had gone to Iraq: "I only heard a rumour from a friend of his. He was 38, he was his own man."

Mike was well-loved by everyone who knew him in our small valley, and everyone was aware of Mike's heritage - he wore a Welsh flag on his ski helmet and bike
Beth Fox, US colleague

In a statement Custer Battles described Mr Bloss's death as a "tragic loss".

"Mike was killed as a result of an ambush near the town of Hit (200 km, 120 miles west of Baghdad), while successfully protecting contractors involved in the reconstruction effort".

Peter Bloss said: "It is devastating, especially after losing my wife and my brother, and now my son, in less than a year.

"I asked the company director how many people have they employed in Iraq and he said 1,200. I said how many have been killed and he said just one, your son".

Michael Bloss had served with the Parachute Regiment in Northern Ireland for three years, where he received a debilitating foot injury.

Rapport

For eight years he had been working as a ski instructor at a centre in Denver, Colorado, before leaving for Iraq a month ago to work as a security guard.

Peter Bloss
Peter's father Michael found out his son was in Iraq through a friend

Mr Bloss sent colleagues at the ski centre an e-mail on Wednesday, when he told them of the dangers he faced in Iraq as the situation between coalition forces and militants worsened.

"We are expecting to be over-run tonight, and we may have to fight our way to a safe haven.

"Unfortunately, all the safe havens are already under attack. I don't wish to alarm you. We'll probably be OK. I'll e-mail when I'm safe," he said.

Colleague Beth Fox said: "The staff begged him not to go. 'It's a job. I'll be ok, don't worry about me', he said. He would e-mail a few of us every day or so.

"The first e-mails were fairly calm, talking about the weather and the people, but as time went on, they graduated in severity," she said.

Ms Fox added: "Mike was well-loved by everyone. The nice thing was how he would create a rapport with the students. He really cared about the way they felt and what they thought.

"Everyone knew him in our small valley and everyone was aware of Mike's heritage. He wore a Welsh flag on his ski helmet and bike," she said.


WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Nick Servini
"He was guarding a number of electrical workers and they came under fire"



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