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Toughest commute in Iraq? The six miles to the airport.

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Samson has been delivering supplies to US military bases for a year. It's a good business that sends him to Baghdad International Airport daily. He reads Psalm 91 before every trip.

Samson, a native of Madras, India, pulls out his dog-eared, hardbound Bible and reads his favorite verse. "A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee."

He prays because the four-lane, six-mile stretch of road leading from central Baghdad to the country's main airport remains one of the most dangerous stretches of highway in Iraq, if not the world. It functions as a critical supply line into and out of the country, traversed daily by US military convoys as well as Iraqi and foreign businessmen, journalists, and aid workers.

So why is this vital strip of concrete, which takes only minutes to travel, still so difficult to protect?

One answer is that despite numerous US military checkpoints, the insurgents know that this is a "target rich" route that is the heart of military and contractor supply routes, and they continue to challenge every security measure devised.

Last Wednesday, three foreign contractors were killed in an ambush on the road. Two more died a day later when a suicide car bomber exploded.

Aid worker Marla Ruzicka was killed a week ago when a car bomber targeting a convoy on the road near her vehicle exploded. And an Italian intelligence agent was shot in March by US soldiers when he was shuttling a journalist to the airport who had just been freed by insurgents.

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