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Blackwater faulted by U.S. military: report

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20071005/ts_nm/iraq_contractors_report_dc Blackwater faulted by U.S. military: report Fri Oct 5, 5:24 AM ET WASHINGTON (Reuters) -
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 5, 2007
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      http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20071005/ts_nm/iraq_contractors_report_dc

      Blackwater faulted by U.S. military: report

      Fri Oct 5, 5:24 AM ET

      WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. military reports from the
      scene of a shooting incident in Baghdad involving
      security contractor Blackwater indicates its guards
      opened fire without provocation and used excessive
      force, The Washington Post reported on Friday.

      At least 11 Iraqis were killed in the September 16
      incident, which has outraged Iraqis who see the firm
      as a private army which acts with impunity.

      Citing a senior U.S. military official, the Post said
      the military reports appear to corroborate the Iraqi
      government's contention that Blackwater was at fault.

      "It was obviously excessive. It was obviously wrong,"
      a U.S. military official speaking on condition of
      anonymity told the newspaper.

      "The civilians that were fired upon, they didn't have
      any weapons to fire back at them. And none of the IP
      (Iraqi police) or any of the local security forces
      fired back at them," the official was quoted as
      saying.

      The Blackwater guards appeared to have fired grenade
      launchers in addition to machine guns, the official
      told the Post. He said U.S. soldiers had reviewed
      statements from eyewitnesses and video footage
      recorded at the scene.

      An Iraqi Interior Ministry official and five
      eyewitnesses described a second deadly shooting
      involving the same Blackwater guards minutes after the
      incident in Nisoor Square, the Post reported.

      The FBI is leading a State Department investigation of
      the incident, which occurred as Blackwater escorted a
      diplomatic convoy in western Baghdad. The Pentagon and
      a joint U.S.-Iraqi team are also looking into the
      incident.

      North Carolina-based Blackwater has said its guards
      reacted lawfully to an attack on the convoy they were
      protecting.

      In previously unpublished remarks prepared for
      delivery at a congressional hearing, Blackwater
      Chairman Erik Prince said the Blackwater guards "came
      under small-arms fire" and "returned fire at
      threatening targets," the Post reported.

      Portions of the remarks dealing with the incident were
      left out of his testimony after the Justice Department
      warned Blackwater the incident was under
      investigation, it reported.

      The Post did not say how they obtained these remarks.

      Blackwater is also under scrutiny over other shooting
      incidents involving Iraqis.
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