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US suspends all land travel by diplomats and civilian officials in Iraq after law-immune US-paid mercenaries kill 20 Iraqis: Iraq’s Ministry of Defence confirms deaths

Posted by gasweek on 26 September, 2007

The US has suspended all land travel by diplomats and civilian officials in Iraq outside Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone, amid mounting outrage over the alleged killing of civilians by the US Embassy’s security provider Blackwater USA, reported The Mercury (20/9/2007, p. 20).

Law and regulation in Iraq: The move came even as the Iraqi government appeared to back down from statements that it had permanently revoked Blackwater’s licence and would order its 1000 personnel to leave the country. “We are not intending to stop them and revoke their licence indefinitely but we do need them to respect the law and the regulation here in Iraq,” government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said on 19 September.

Report contradicts Blackwater’s account: The New York Times reported that a preliminary review by Iraq’s Interior Ministry found that Blackwater guards fired at a car when it did not heed a policeman’s call to stop, killing a couple and their infant. The report seemed to contradict an account offered by Blackwater that the security guards were responding to gunfire by militants. The Times also said that Blackwater helicopters had fired in the Baghdad incident, after a bomb landed near a US State Department convoy. Iraq’s Ministry of Defence said 20 Iraqis were killed, considerably higher than the 11 dead reported on Tuesday 18 September.

The Mercury, 20/9/2007, p. 20

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