blackwater’s license (to kill) being revoked in iraq

blackwater's license (to kill) being revoked in iraqfrom afp: Iraq has ordered the cancellation of the operating licence of US security firm Blackwater after it was involved in a shootout in Baghdad that killed eight people, a senior official told AFP on Monday.

Blackwater offers personal security to US officials working in Iraq.

“The interior minister (Jawad al-Bolani) has issued an order to cancel Blackwater’s licence and the company is prohibited from operating anywhere in Iraq,” interior ministry director of operations Major General Abdel Karim Khalaf said.

“We have opened a criminal investigation against the group who committed the crime.”

On Sunday, a US diplomatic convoy was involved in a shootout in Baghdad’s Al-Yarmukh neighbourhood which killed at least eight people and wounded 13 others.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki condemned what he called the “criminal” response of the contractors guarding the convoy which Washington’s mission in Baghdad said had come under attack from insurgents.

blackwater's license (to kill) being revoked in iraq“Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki condemns and strongly denounces the criminal operation committed by one of the foreign security companies in Al-Nissur Square,” said a statement from Maliki’s office quoted by state television.

The US convoy came under attack on Sunday while it was travelling past Al-Nissur Square in the Al-Yarmukh neighbourhood of west Baghdad, Iraqi security officials said.

The private security contractors accompanying the convoy returned fire.

According to the security officials, nine people were killed and 15 wounded. Khalaf confirmed eight people dead, including a policeman, and 13 wounded.

Most of the dead and wounded were bystanders, the officials said.

A US embassy official said security vehicles of the Department of State were involved in a shooting incident near Al-Nissur Square.

“They received small arms fire. One of the vehicles was disabled in the shooting and had to be towed from the scene.

“The incident is being investigated by the Department of State Diplomatic Security Service law enforcement officials in cooperation with the government of Iraq and multinational forces,” the official added.

Blackwater representatives were not immediately available for comment.