(AFP) – Sep 30, 2007
WASHINGTON (AFP) — Iraqi investigators have evidence that US private guards fired unprovoked on Iraqis in a deadly Baghdad shoot-out, a magazine said Sunday, citing a police report countering claims that they shot in self-defense.
A convoy of the Blackwater private security firm's vehicles "opened fire crazily and randomly, without any reason," Newsweek reported, quoting from the report which it said Iraq's national police have presented to US officials.
Evidence obtained from the police, including witness statements and video footage, contradicts Blackwater's account of the shooting in which 10 Iraqis were killed on September 16, it said in its Monday edition.
The firm insists its guards were shot at first and were threatened by a suspicious vehicle that refused to stop.
But Newsweek quoted officers including the lead Iraqi police investigator Faris Saadi Abdul, and the commander of the Iraqi National Police, Hussein Al-Awadi, as saying that the contractors fired without provocation.
A police video published online by the magazine showed the scene after the clash on Baghdad's Nisoor square: a smoking car with charred human remains and riddled with bullet holes, and spent gun cartridges scattered on the ground.
Iraqi police investigators also believe Blackwater fired on cars and civilians from helicopters overhead, it said, citing police documents and its own interviews with officers. The video shows a chopper similar to those used by Blackwater hovering near the scene.
Blackwater has denied its guards in the helicopters opened fire.
Newsweek also quoted a local traffic policeman saying that Blackwater shot the driver of a car and continued firing as Iraqi police tried to pull the driver's body out of it.
A policeman who witnessed the shooting told the magazine Blackwater guards also fired larger projectiles at the car. The video obtained by Newsweek showed a large-caliber shell casing and a car with a large hole in its side.
US newspapers citing officials and witnesses reported this week that the contractors fired without provocation and the shooting continued even as one Blackwater employee ordered the others to stop firing.
The firm has 1,000 employees in Iraq guarding US diplomats in the country, which is struggling for stability after the US-led 2003 invasion that ousted dictator Saddam Hussein.
The United States has sent a team to evaluate security measures for its diplomats and the defense secretary has ordered a team to investigate relations between US forces and private security contractors.
Copyright © 2014 AFP. All rights reserved. More »