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S. Korea: No change to troop plan

The vehicle in which the two South Koreans were killed.
The vehicle in which the two South Koreans were killed.

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SEOUL, South Korea -- South Korea has vowed to push forward with plans to send more troops to help rebuild Iraq despite a weekend attack that killed two South Korean engineers and seriously wounded two others.

The attack by unidentified gunmen on a road near Tikrit -- the first on South Koreans by Iraqi resistance forces --came as Seoul was planning to send up to 3,000 troops to Iraq on top of hundreds of military medic and engineers already operating there.

"Despite the sacrifices of the tragic incident, the government will not give into violence and human killings and we will continue to make efforts to provide humanitarian aid and join relief and reconstruction projects in Iraq," Foreign Minister Yoon Young-kwan said in a brief statement after a special emergency National Security Council meeting on Monday.

"This incident will not affect the question of sending troops to Iraq," Yoon said. "Our decision to send troops to Iraq remains unchanged."

Yoon said that U.S. President George W. Bush had sent a telegram of condolences following the killings and he had also received a personal call from U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell.

Earlier, South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun condemned the attack as an act of "intolerable" terror.

"This is an act of terror against civilians and is an intolerable, inhumane act," Roh was quoted as saying by his office during a meeting with aides.

The deployment of troops is widely unpopular with South Korea's public even though a dispatch of 3,000 personnel is far fewer than the U.S. requested.

The government has not yet decided on the size of the force and whether it would include combat troops, but nearly 700 South Korean medics and engineers are already stationed in Iraq.

Additionally, about 30 South Korean diplomats and civilians are in Iraq.

Roh, right, held an emergency meeting to discuss the deaths.
Roh, right, held an emergency meeting to discuss the deaths.

South Korean officials identified the two men killed as Kim Man-soo, 46, and Kwak Kyong-hae, 61. They were there for Seoul-based Omu Electric Co., which has sent 68 engineers to Iraq since October.

The killings came amid a series of weekend attacks on troops, diplomats, agents and civilians from countries participating in the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq.

In addition to the South Korean deaths, seven Spanish intelligence agents, two Japanese diplomats, their Iraqi driver, a Colombian contract worker and two U.S. soldiers died over the weekend. (Japan inquiry | Spain defiant)

-- CNN Seoul Bureau Chief Sohn Jie-ae contributed to this report.

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