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AFP: Blackwater Did Not Kill Two Women

From France’s AFP:

Foreign guards kill two women in Baghdad

by Ammar Karim and Herve Bar

Foreign security guards killed two women on Tuesday, opening fire on their car in the centre of the Iraqi capital and then speeding off “like gangsters,” witnesses and Iraqi security officials said.

The shooting in Karrada came two days after Iraq vowed to punish US security firm Blackwater after a probe found that its guards were not provoked when they opened “deliberate” fire in Baghdad three weeks ago, killing 17 Iraqis.

Shopkeeper Ammar Fallah, a witness to the Tuesday’s shooting, told AFP the guards, who were escorting a civilian convoy through the streets, signalled for a woman driving a white Oldsmobile car to pull over as they passed.

“When she failed to do so they opened fire, killing her and the woman next to her,” he said. “There were two children in the back seat but they were not harmed. The women were both shot in the head.”

Iraqi officials confirmed the incident, which occurred at the Masbar intersection in Karrada, a commercial and residential district which is regarded as one of the most secure in Baghdad.

“A security convoy of four-wheel drive vehicles opened fire on a white car at 2.30 pm (1130 GMT) killing two women,” an interior ministry official said.

Another witness, Sattar Jabar, told AFP that private car had moved too close to the convoy.

“It tried to avoid the convoy of four white SUVs of the foreigners but it came close to the last vehicle, which then opened fire immediately.”

Jabar confirmed that two women were killed but said a third woman in the back seat had been wounded in the shoulder. One of the children had been struck by flying glass.

An AFP reporter counted 40 bullet holes in the bloodspattered car, which was later towed to the nearby Masbar police station.

A policemen who heard the shots and came running to the scene said that after the shooting the security guards “rode away like gangsters.”

It was not clear which security company was involved in Tuesday’s shooting. Witnesses said the vehicles sped off in the direction of a base of Dubai-based Unity Resources Group (URG), staffed mainly by Australian security guards…

Blackwater was not involved, according to US embassy spokeswoman Mirembe Nantongo.

“There was no US embassy connection,” she told AFP.

The Iraqi government said on Monday it was determined to rein in private security contractors following the Blackwater shooting.

“We have set strict mechanisms to control the behaviour of the security companies and their conduct in the streets,” interior ministry spokesman Abdul Karim Khalaf said.

The role of private security companies operating in Iraq has been under the scanner since September 16, when Blackwater USA guards escorting a convoy of US diplomats opened fire in Baghdad’s Nisoor square.

An Iraqi government probe of the incident, which it said killed 17 civilians, found that the guards were not provoked and accused them of a “deliberate” crime.

“Employees of the company violated the rules governing use of force by security companies. They have committed a deliberate crime and should be punished under the law.”

The Iraqi government would now take “judicial measures to punish the company,” the statement said.

Blackwater, one of the biggest security firms working in Iraq with around 1,000 staff, is employed to protect US government personnel in the country. It maintains its men were legitimately responding to an ambush while escorting a US State Department convoy.

Iraqi and US officials have set up a joint commission to investigate the activities of private security companies.

Drats. The media thought they really had something good.

Still, given the headline and the early and often mention of the hated Blackwater, most of the great unwashed will think they were involved anyway.

And that’s practically as good

This article was posted by Steve on Tuesday, October 9th, 2007. Comments are currently closed.

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