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BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) -- Two Germans working on a water-supply project south of Baghdad were shot to death Tuesday, and their deaths brought to six the number of foreigners killed in drive-by shootings in the past 24 hours.
The top U.S. military commander said the attacks were meant to divide the 36-member coalition occupying Iraq.
The two Germans were killed in an attack Tuesday on the outskirts of the town of Mussayab, 45 miles south of Baghdad, said Dr. Jamal Kadhim, head of the emergency department at Mussayab General Hospital. Their Iraqi driver and a police officer were also killed, and two police were wounded.
Kadhim said he saw the passports of the two Germans, though a German embassy official in Baghdad said one was German and one was Dutch. Police chief Col. A'ayed Omran said they were working on a project at Al-Razzaza, a lake near the southern city of Karbala, and that they were carrying weapons because they had been attacked in the same area before.
It came after four U.S. missionaries were slain in a drive-by shooting in the northern city of Mosul, where they were working on a water-purification project. One of them died on the way to the hospital, and a fifth survived.
U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez spoke before the attack on the Europeans, but said such attacks were meant to divide the coalition.
"Clearly there has been a shift in the insurgency and the way the extremists are conducting operations," Sanchez said during a military ceremony in the northern city of Tikrit. "It is very clear they are going after these targets that might create some splits within the coalition."
Sanchez cast doubt on whether Spain would withdraw its 1,300 troops from Iraq, as the new prime minister has said he will do if the United Nations doesn't take over peacekeeping by June 30. But he said that if they do, the loss would not be "a significant military problem" for the U.S.-led coalition.
"I think that it is still evolving," Sanchez said. "We will have to wait a few days."
The Elliotts were scouting the best location for a water purification project, said Michelle DeVoss of the First Baptist Church in Cary, N.C.
The Virginia-based Southern Baptist International Mission Board identified the four dead as Larry T. Elliott, 60, and Jean Dover Elliott, 58, of Cary, N.C.; Karen Denise Watson, 38, of Bakersfield, Calif.; and David E. McDonnall, 28, of Rowlett, Texas.
McDonnall died Tuesday morning on a helicopter that was transporting him to a military hospital in Baghdad after four U.S. military surgeons worked for six hours to save his life, the mission board said.
McDonnall's wife, Carrie Taylor McDonnall, 26, of Rowlett, Texas, remains in critical condition, the mission board said. She is the only survivor of the attack.
Lt. Col. Joseph Piek, a spokesman for American forces in Mosul, said the five Americans were traveling in one car on the eastern side of the city when they were attacked.
An off-duty Iraqi policeman found the car shortly after the late Monday afternoon shooting. Three of the victims were dead. The officer took the two wounded to an Iraqi hospital. U.S. Army air medical evacuation helicopters later transported them to a combat support hospital in Mosul.
"They knew going into Iraq, they couldn't really share their Christian faith unless somebody asked them," said Larry Kingsley, a church deacon. "They were there in a humanitarian situation. They were people who just had a great heart for helping people out."
The five knew they were traveling to a dangerous part of the world, but decided to press on, said Manda Roten, spokeswoman for the missionary board.
"Their personal love for God and their desire to obey him would outweigh any personal risks for them," Roten said.
Iraqi police and the FBI were involved in the investigation.
Sanchez said the coalition could continue without Spain's contribution if it decides to withdraw.
"It is something we will have to adjust to," the general said. "But it is clearly manageable. It is not a significant military problem for the coalition to be able to cover that area."
The new prime minister, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, vowed to pull out Spanish forces during the election campaign. The United States plans to turn over sovereignty to Iraq by June 30 but has no plans to cede control of the military operation to the United Nations.
Zapatero's Socialist party was propelled to an upset victory in elections Sunday by anger over terrorist attacks in Madrid last week that killed 200 people. Voters accused the outgoing prime minister, Jose Maria Aznar, of making Spain a target by supporting the U.S.-led war in Iraq.
In Mosul on Tuesday, an Iraqi woman whose sister works for the U.S. military was slain in a drive-by shooting that also wounded the woman's brother and father, police in the city said. Police said the slain woman, a pharmacist, may have been confused with her sister who works as a translator on a U.S. Army base in Mosul.
(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)