BAGHDAD — The Iraqi government said Monday that it was revoking the license of a U.S. security firm accused of involvement in the deaths of eight civilians in a firefight that followed a car bomb explosion near a U.S. State Department motorcade.
The Interior Ministry said it would prosecute any foreign contractors found to have used excessive force in the Sunday shooting. It was the latest accusation against the U.S.-contracted firms that operate with little or no supervision and are widely disliked by Iraqis who resent their speeding motorcades and forceful behaviour.
Underscoring the seriousness of the matter, the State Department said Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice planned to call Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to express regret and assure him that the U.S. has launched an investigation into the matter to ensure nothing like it happens again.
Interior Ministry spokesman Abdul-Karim Khalaf said eight civilians were killed and 13 were wounded when contractors believed to be working for Blackwater USA opened fire in a predominantly Sunni neighbourhood of western Baghdad.
The Nation's Jeremy Scahill describes the rise of Blackwater USA, the world's most powerful mercenary army.