Aznar on 30 November said that his country would not be deterred by the death of seven of its intelligence agents in an ambush near Baghdad. Speaking as the bodies of the men arrived back in Spain, Aznar said: ‘The international community is now facing the challenge of a tyranny which is reluctant to disappear and of a terrorist network which has become the biggest global challenge for free societies, for our societies,’ he said. The seven agents were killed on 29 November in the town of Mahmudiya, some 30 kilometres south of Baghdad, when militants attacked their convoy. The militant group the Al-Farouq Brigades, which supports former president Saddam Hussein, has claimed responsibility for the attack (MEED 4:11:03).

Young-Kwan told reporters in Seoul that the death of two civilian contractors near Tikrit would not prevent the planned deployment of some 3,000 troops in early 2004. ‘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,’ Young-Kwan said. ‘This incident will not affect the question of sending troops to Iraq – Our decision to send troops to Iraq remains unchanged.’ (MEED 14:11:03)