updated 5/23/2009 9:47:22 AM ET 2009-05-23T13:47:22

Two Americans have been killed in separate incidents inside Baghdad's highly fortified Green Zone, U.S. and Iraqi officials said Saturday, raising concerns about its security as Iraq's forces assume more control.

The body of an American civilian was found Friday in a vehicle in the Green Zone, and another contractor was killed by a rocket attack that night near the American Embassy, U.S. military officials said.

The body was believed to be that of a civilian working for the Department of Defense, said Lt. Col. Brian Maka, adding that the death was under investigation and no other details were immediately available.

An Iraqi police official, however, told The Associated Press that the American appeared to have been killed.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the press.

The second American was killed when a rocket struck the Green Zone Friday night at 8:15 p.m. local time, said military spokesman Maj. Jose A. Lopez.

The rocket attack and discovery of the body come as the Iraqi government has begun tearing down blast walls surrounding the Green Zone, which houses a number of government ministries as well as the American Embassy.

Iraqi control
Iraq assumed control of the Green Zone under a U.S.-Iraqi security pact that took effect Jan. 1. The U.S. continues to provide its own security in key areas, such as near the embassy and at the small military base inside.

Under the pact, the American military must withdraw from Iraq's urban areas by June 30, 2009, and the rest of the country by the end of 2011. President Barack Obama, however, has announced plans to withdraw combat troops from Iraq by Aug. 31, 2010.

Since the Green Zone was established shortly after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion, it has been repeatedly shelled or attacked by suicide and car bombers.

In 2005, Ronald Schulz of Anchorage, Alaska, was believed to have been kidnapped from the Green Zone where he was working as an electrician. His body and that of a woman believed to be his Iraqi fiancee were found by the U.S. military in a grave in September 2008.

The Islamic Army in Iraq claimed in December 2005 that it had killed the pair.

Also Saturday, the U.S. military said an American soldier died Friday in a noncombat incident in Baghdad province.

A statement released by the military said the incident was under investigation. No further details were provided. The name of the soldier was not been released pending notification of next of kin.

At least 4,300 members of the U.S. military have died in the Iraq war since it began in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count.

The figure includes eight military civilians killed in action. At least 3,443 military personnel died as a result of hostile action, according to the military's numbers.

More on: Green Zone

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,

Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments