|source almanarTV |
17/09/2007 Armed contractors employed by private US security firm Blackwater USA gained a reputation of shooting first and not bothering to ask questions later as they charged through Iraq protecting US personnel and property.
The North Carolina firm, whose license was cancelled by the Iraqi government on Monday after its personnel were involved in a deadly shootout in Baghdad, has never been far from controversy in war-ravaged Iraq. Nor have its estimated 1,000 or so contractors in Iraq, who have been drawn increasingly into the war, been far from death.
Armed contractors are deployed to protect US officials and convoys transporting reconstruction material, including vehicles, weapons and ammunition for the Iraqi army and police. But, the report said, they are becoming increasingly involved in military action, fighting militiamen, enduring attacks and taking hundreds of casualties that have been sometimes concealed.
Also in May, a Blackwater-protected convoy was ambushed in downtown Baghdad, triggering a furious battle, in which the security contractors, US and Iraqi troops and AH-64 Apache attack helicopters opened fire in a crowded area. A similar incident occurred on Sunday, when Blackwater guards were escorting a US diplomatic convoy through the Al-Yarmukh neighborhood of west Baghdad. Witnesses and victims lying in hospital suffering gunshot wounds said the Blackwater guards had opened indiscriminate fire into the crowded streets and at cars trapped behind the convoy. When the pandemonium had died down, at least eight people were dead and 13 wounded. The incident was just one too many for the Iraqi authorities, who on Monday issued orders to revoke Blackwater's license.