October 26, 2005 08:00 AM

The U.S. military on Wednesday announced the Iraq war’s 2,001st casualty: an American soldier who perished in a vehicle accident in southern Iraq. The soldier died near Camp Bucca, a U.S. detention center, on Tuesday, the same day the U.S. death toll in Iraq reached 2,000.

The 2,000th fatality was staff Sgt. George T. Alexander, Jr., 34, of Killeen, Texas, who died Saturday at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, of wounds suffered Oct. 17, when a bomb exploded near his vehicle in the central Iraqi city of Samarra, according to the Defense Department.

Staff Sgt. George T. Alexander, Jr.

Without acknowledging the 2,000 number, President Bush said in a Tuesday address that “each loss of life is heartbreaking … We’ve lost some of our nation’s finest men and women in the war on terror. And the best way to honor the sacrifice of our fallen troops is to complete the mission.”

The Pentagon announcement of Alexander’s death was made after Iraqi election officials declared that voters had ratified the new constitution, which the United States hopes will boost the political process seen as key to ending the insurgency and enabling the U.S. and its coalition partners to bring their troops home.

The grim milestone was reached at a time of growing disenchantment over the war among the American public toward a conflict that was launched to punish Iraqi President Saddam Hussein for his alleged weapons of mass destruction. None were ever found, reports the Associated Press.

Meanwhile, insurgent attacks continued Wednesday. Four militants hiding behind a mosque shot and killed a government official as he drove to work Wednesday, and an Internet statement claimed Al-Qaida in Iraq has abducted two Moroccan embassy employees. Suspected insurgents also gunned down two Iraqi policemen in the western city of Ramadi and two Iraqi soldiers in Tarmiyah, 30 miles north of the capital.

A candlelight vigil for fallen soldiers in Oakland, Calif.

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