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Iraqi Adviser: Blackwater Guards Must Go

Common Dreams staff

Iraq - Iraq's Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki asked the U.S. State Department to "pull Blackwater out of Iraq," saying the private contractors committed unprovoked and random killings in a September 16 shooting, an adviser to al-Maliki told CNN.Adviser Sami al-Askari told CNN the Iraqis have concluded their investigation into the shooting at Nusoor Square in Baghdad.

Al-Askari said the United States is still waiting for the findings of the American investigation, but al-Maliki and most Iraqi officials are "completely satisfied" with the findings of their probe and are "insisting" that Blackwater leave the country.

U.S. Embassy spokeswoman Mirembe Natango told CNN by telephone that the Iraqi-U.S. joint commission met and is proceeding with its work on the matter.

"We need to let the joint commission do its work," she said, adding that once the joint commission has finished, it will make policy recommendations.

Blackwater CEO and founder Erik Prince has said the team was attacked and was defending itself at an intersection not far from the heavily guarded Green Zone on September 16. Seventeen Iraqis were killed, including women and children, and 27 were wounded, according to Iraqi officials.

Prince told CNN Sunday that the guards did not commit "deliberate violence."

"There was definitely incoming small arms fire from insurgents" he said on CNN's Wolf Blitzer on "Late Edition."

The U.S. State Department and the FBI are investigating the incident.

Survivors told harrowing stories of being shot at by the guards despite presenting no threat. The FBI has been in the process of speaking to the survivors.

The first U.S. soldiers to arrive on the scene after the incident told military investigators they found no evidence contractors were fired upon, a source familiar with a preliminary U.S. military report told CNN.

The soldiers found evidence suggesting the guards fired on cars attempting to leave and found weapon casings on the scene matching only those used by U.S. military and contractors, the military source said.

But Prince on Sunday told CNN, "In the incident reports I've seen, at least three of our armored vehicles were hit by small arms fire, incoming, and one of them damaged, which actually delayed their departure from the traffic circle while they tried to rig a tow."

A Philadelphia law firm has filed suit in federal court against Blackwater on behalf of the families of three Iraqis killed and one wounded in the in the incident, which occurred in and around Baghdad's Nusoor Square.

The suit claims Blackwater "created and fostered a culture of lawlessness amongst its employees, encouraging them to act in the company's financial interests at the expense of innocent human life."

© 2007 CNN

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