Fear and suspicion inside the kill zone

Phillip - he does not want his surname published - is a civil engineer on a six-month contract in Iraq with a US construction company, which he has already extended by three months. Back home, he would normally commute into London from his home in Kent.

"I would take a train at 7.30am from Sevenoaks. There were always delays, you could never sit down. And the routine was so tedious," he said. "Coming to Iraq seemed a good idea at the time. I am 37 years old and I am earning 40 per cent more than I was getting in the UK, and living expenses are negligible.

"But then you think about what happened to poor Ken Bigley ... It's very sad, but also very scary. My wife is extremely worried, she wants me to go home as soon as possible."

Iraq is now effectively one big killing ground, and the expatriate community, including 2,100 British nationals in Baghdad, are already living in a state of siege. The waves of diplomats, businessmen, aid workers and journalists who arrived at the end of the war have largely evaporated. A small fraction remain behind, either counting the days to their return home, or bringing that date forward.

More than 150 foreigners have been taken hostage in Iraq, and 23 of them killed, with many of the murders filmed. Unsurprisingly, the effects on reconstruction have been devastating, with many projects vastly behind schedule. There are other threats beside abduction. While the US forces and their Iraqi allies attack insurgents in Samarra, Babil and Fallujah, the enemy has brought the war home to the Iraqi capital. Not a day goes by without a suicide car-bombing or a mortar or rocket attack, often in the city centre.

Even staying "locked down" in heavily guarded hotels or houses in barricaded compounds is no guarantee of safety. A few hours after Mr Bigley's murder in Latifiya, a short drive south-west of Baghdad, on Thursday, rockets were slamming into the Ishtar Sheraton in the heart of the city.

The hotel, and the Palestine opposite, are homes to a large number of contractors, security personnel and American media organisations including CNN, Fox News and The Washington Post. They are guarded by Iraqi troops and American armoured cars, but that has not stopped nine attacks since the war. Further down in the same complex are the BBC, Reuters and The New York Times. It takes 15 minutes to walk from the car park outside the fortress to their houses. The journalists have been told not to go outside the walls unless absolutely necessary. Last week a pick-up truck full of explosives, hidden by a load of dates, drove into a convoy of private security guards leaving the complex. Three people were killed.

Most other foreigners stay in the Green Zone, a 10 sq km "sanitised" area where the US and British embassies and the offices of the Iraqi interim government are based. It is bristling with guns and security; even with the right credentials one has to undergo repeated searches.

It is a slice of middle America with joggers along the tree-lined avenues, a mall, a bazaar, cafés and restaurants catering to Western tastes. But one cannot keep Baghdad out. On average, mortars are lobbed in from the streets outside three times a day. Three days ago a bomb was discovered outside the Green Zone café, one of the most popular attractions for off-duty soldiers. There are dangers of kidnapping even here, and the foreign residents, especially women, are advised not to go out by themselves after dark.

TOLL SINCE KEN BIGLEY'S CAPTURE

Eugene Armstrong, 20 September

"Jack", as the 52-year-old was known to friends, had worked on construction projects in Angola and Thailand before travelling to Baghdad. In a memorial service in Michigan last month, friends remembered a "multi-talented" man full of enthusiasm.

Jack Hensley, 21 September

Killed the day before he turned 49, he had travelled to Iraq, leaving a wife and 13-year-old daughter in the US. The civil engineer was working on water, electricity and schools programmes.

Akar Besir, 21 September

A Turkish driver working for the American military, Mr Besir was taken hostage around 18 September. His body was found in the northern city of Mosul.

Anwar Wali, 2 October

The 44-year-old was kidnapped at the end of August from his Baghdad home and killed by militants who accused him of spying. Mr Wali was an Italian citizen of Iraqi origin. The Italian government described him as a businessman.

Yalmaz Dabja, 2 October

Mr Dabja, 33, was executed at the same time as Mr Wali. A video released by his killers shows him being forced to kneel in front of a ditch before being shot. He was also accused of spying.

News
The surrealist comedian at the Q Awards in 2010
people
Life and Style
Six of the 76 Goats' cheese samples contained a significant amount of sheep's cheese
food + drink
News
Russell Brand arriving for the book launch in East London
peopleRussell Brand cancels his book launch debate due to concerns about the make-up of the panel
Life and Style
Could you tell the difference between this and an organic alternative?
food + drink

Culinary experts in The Netherlands thought it was 'fresh' and 'tasty'

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Contestants during this summer's Celebrity Big Brother grand finale
tvBroadcaster attempts to change its image following sale to US
Life and Style
tech

Of all the computers Apple has ever made there’s only one that Steve Jobs had to sell his car to finance

News
New look: Zellweger at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday

Actress sees off speculation about her face in an amazing way

Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Dales attempts to sell British Breeze in the luxury scent task
tvReview: 'Apprentice' candidates on the verge of tears as they were ejected from the boardroom
News
Call me Superman: one of many unusual names chosen by Chinese students
newsChinese state TV offers advice for citizens picking a Western moniker
Arts and Entertainment
film

Marvel has released first teaser trailer week early after it leaked online

Arts and Entertainment
Awesome foursome: Sam Smith shows off his awards
music22-year-old confirms he is 2014’s breakout British music success
Arts and Entertainment
Frank Sivero in Goodfellas; Simpsons' wise guy Louie

The sound of Goodfellas mafioso Frankie Carbone demanding $250m in “damages” would be chilling enough on film, let alone in real life.

News
Let’s pretend: KidZania in Tokyo
educationKidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day
News
i100
Voices
'Irritatingly Disneyfied': fashion vlogger Zoella
voicesVicky Chandler: Zoella shows us that feminism can come in all forms
Life and Style
health
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Front end web developer - URGENT CONTRACT

£250 - £300 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: **URGENT CONTRACT** Our...

Year 3 Teacher

£21000 - £31000 per annum: Randstad Education Chelmsford: KS2 Teachers - Chelm...

ABAP Developer

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ampersand Consulting LLP: SAP ABAP Developer - Rugb...

Head of Finance - Media

£80000 - £90000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: Working for an International Mul...

Day In a Page

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

Liverpool v Real Madrid

Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?