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U.S. contractor killed in Iraq while clearing area of mines

Brandon Pinson, 31, was killed while defusing an improvised explosive device left from battles with the Islamic State.
Image: The Tigris River separates Mosul, Iraq, on June 29, 2017.
The Tigris River separates Mosul, Iraq, seen here in 2017.Felipe Dana / AP file

An American working to defuse explosive devices left from battles with the Islamic State near the northern Iraqi city of Mosul has been killed, according to local Iraqi security officials and the humanitarian organization Swiss Foundation for Mine Action (FSD).

FSD, which clears mines and explosive remnants after wars, named the American on Tuesday as 31-year-old Brandon Pinson.

The FSD employee was defusing an explosive device when he was killed, the organization said in a statement.

Pinson, who was married with two children, had been working in the area for five months and was supervising a team of Iraqi deminers, it added. No other staff members present were injured.

FSD said Pinson was a "very seasoned explosive ordnance disposal technician with ten years of experience in this field." An investigation has been opened by the Iraqi Directorate of Mine Action, it added.

On Monday NBC News confirmed the death with Col. Bahaa al-Azawi, from Nineveh Operation Command.

"An American contractor who works with a foreign de-mining company was killed while he was defusing an IED in Qayyara, southern Mosul, Nineveh Province," he said, referring to an improvised explosive device.

Iraq declared victory over ISIS, which once held large swathes of the country, in December 2017. The United Nations said in February it could take many years to clear Mosul of hazards such as improvised explosive devices left by retreating ISIS fighters.