foreign security firm open fire on civilians and are arrested

Iraqi security forces seize foreign firm members in Baghdad

Iraqi security forces on Monday seized contractors of a foreign security company after they opened fire in central Baghdad, wounding a woman, an Interior Ministry source said.About 30 to 40 security guards and the personnel of a foreign company they were escorting had been detained, the source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity. Among the detained are two American contractors. The guards are Asians and Iraqis, he said, adding that their identifications are subject to further confirmation.The incident took place in the afternoon when the foreign and Iraqi security contractors of a construction company opened gunfire at a crowded road in Karradah neighborhood to find their way out of the traffic jam, the source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.

A woman was wounded by their fire, prompting the Iraqi security forces in the area to surround the convoy of the company and arrested all the employees and their security contractors, the source said.

Angry bystanders at the spot threw stones on the arrested people, the source added.

Late in October, the Iraqi government approved a law to deprive foreign security firms of immunity following several random shootings on Iraqi civilians in Baghdad. But the draft law is yet to be approved by the Iraqi parliament.


By Ammar Karim in Baghdad

November 20, 2007 11:10am

FOREIGN security contractors opened fire in a busy shopping district of Baghdad, wounding a woman, to move traffic out of the way of their convoy, officials say.

Iraqi soldiers detained the private security guards after the incident which has rekindled controversy over the operations of foreign contractors.

“Iraqi soldiers arrested some men of an Italian PSD (private security detail) after they opened fire randomly on citizens in Karrada in which a woman was wounded,” Brigadier General Qasim Ata of the Iraqi army said.

An Iraqi security official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said three Italians had been detained after the incident.

The guards were in a convoy of three vehicles as it passed through Karrada, a busy shopping district.

“They tried to disperse the cars on the road and make their way through when guards in one of their convoy vehicles opened fire. One woman was wounded in the firing,” the official said.

People quickly gathered around the vehicles, preventing them from moving. Iraqi soldiers arrived minutes later and arrested the contractors.

In Rome, a foreign ministry spokesman insisted that no Italians were arrested.

“The office of the Iraqi prime minister (Nuri al-Maliki) told us that no Italian was on the list of employees of the company,” the spokesman said.

There has been mounting controversy over the operations of private security guards in Iraq since a shooting in September in which guards of Blackwater USA gunned down civilians in a Baghdad square.

Last week, the New York Times reported that the FBI had found in its initial investigation that at least 14 Iraqis were killed without justification in the September 16 shooting involving Blackwater.

In all, 17 people were killed when Blackwater staff opened fire in a crowded Baghdad neighbourhood as they protected a State Department convoy.

Blackwater said the guards came under attack.

On October 10, guards employed by Australian-managed security firm Unity Resources Group raked a car with automatic gunfire, killing two women in central Baghdad.

Guards said they believed they were about to be attacked by a suicide bomber.

On November 10, guards of US company Dyncorp shot dead a taxi driver in the north Baghdad neighbourhood of Utafiya as they were escorting US diplomats.

Dyncorp guards too said they believed they were under attack.

A furious Mr Maliki has demanded that Blackwater leave the country. That is under discussion between US diplomats and military officials and the Iraqi Government in a joint commission set up to examine the use of private guards in Iraq.

Government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said that while the Government did not want to outlaw private security companies, they had to be regulated.

“We understand that security companies are subject to high levels of stress … but when there are incidents, members should be held accountable.”  


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