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Iraq Wants Blackwater To Pay For Civilian Deaths

Blackwater security contractors in Baghdad (file photo) (AFP) October 9, 2007 -- Western news agencies are quoting an Iraqi government report as demanding that the U.S. security firm Blackwater pay $136 in compensation for the killing of Iraqi civilians in Baghdad last month.

The sum would allow $8 million to be granted to each of the families of 17 people killed in the shooting.

Iraq accuses Blackwater guards of deliberately firing on the civilians in the September 16 incident. The company claims its guards came under fire and shot in self-defense.

Blackwater is a private security company that provides guards for U.S. diplomats, among others. Private security forces are immune from prosecution in Iraq, but a U.S. investigation into the September shootings has raised the possibility of a trial in the United States.

News agencies whose correspondents have seen a copy of the Iraqi report say that Iraqi authorities also want Blackwater expelled from Iraq within six months.

The report was said to have been prepared by a panel, led by Defense Minister Abd al-Qadir Muhammad Jasim, which is investigating the shootings.

(BBC, AP, Reuters)

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