The Iraqi government has ordered employees of the North Carolina-based security firm Blackwater USA to leave the country and is opening a criminal investigation following Sunday’s deadly shootout in Baghdad, during which a group of Blackwater contractors escorting a convoy of U.S. officials opened fire on nearby civilians.
Iraq has cancelled the licence of the private security firm, Blackwater USA, after it was involved in a gunfight in which at least eight civilians died.
The Iraqi interior ministry said the contractor, based in North Carolina, was now banned from operating in Iraq.
The Blackwater workers, who were contracted by the US state department, apparently opened fire after coming under attack in Baghdad on Sunday.
The BBC report also noted that Sunday’s incident occurred after the publication of a survey of over 1,400 Iraqis which posits that over a million people may have died as a result of violence in their country since the war began in 2003.
A UK-based polling agency, Opinion Research Business (ORB), said it had extrapolated the figure by asking a random sample of 1,461 Iraqi adults how many people living in their household had died as a result of the violence rather than from natural causes.
The results lend weight to a 2006 survey of Iraqi households published by the Lancet, which suggested that about 655,000 Iraqi deaths were “a consequence of the war”.
Click here to listen to Truthdig’s interview with journalist Jeremy Scahill about his book, “Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army.”
Read about another two other incidents involving Blackwater contractors that created trouble for the firm and for U.S.-Iraqi relations.
Visit Blackwater’s website here.