Student kills American teacher in northern Iraq

Reuters News
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Posted: Mar 01, 2012 6:38 AM

ARBIL, Iraq (Reuters) - An Iraqi student shot dead his American teacher and then shot himself in northern Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region on Thursday, the provincial governor said.

"There was an argument between the student and his American teacher ... and as a result of that argument the student shot dead his teacher using a pistol he had, and then shot himself," said Sulaimaniya Province Governor Zan Mohammad Salih.

He said the student had survived the shooting and was now in hospital.

Salih gave the American teacher's name as Jeremiah Small and identified the student as Beyar al-Talabani.

"We cannot say there is a political or religious dimension to the incident and the investigation is still going on. It is an ordinary criminal incident," the governor said.

Jeremiah Small's blog page on the photo sharing website Flickr describes him as a teacher, hailing from western Washington State, and based in Sulaimaniya.

The northern Kurdish region was spared the extreme violence that has plagued the rest of Iraq, and is the only part of Iraq that draws large numbers of Westerners living and working without special security measures.

U.S. forces withdrew from Iraq in December, nearly nine years after the invasion that toppled dictator Saddam Hussein, which was followed by a fierce insurgency and sectarian conflict. Washington maintains a consulate in Arbil, the capital of the Kurdish zone.

A U.S. embassy spokesman said: "We have heard reports regarding the shooting of a teacher in Sulaimaniya and are working through our consulate in Arbil and Iraqi authorities to ascertain the details of the incident.

"At this time we are waiting for identification to be complete and for the family to be notified."

(Reporting by Shamal Aqrawi in Arbil; Writing and additional reporting by Peter Graff in Baghdad; Editing by Yara Bayoumy)