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FBI team in Iraq to probe Blackwater

The team will review the role of a US private security firm involved in a shooting incident in Iraq last month.

world Updated: Oct 02, 2007 11:36 IST

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has said that it will send a team to Iraq to review the role of a US private security company which was involved in a shooting last month that left nearly a dozen Iraqis dead.

FBI spokesman Richard Kolko said Monday that the move was taken at the request of the State Department to investigate the evidence in the Sep 16 shooting and pursue possible criminal charges before referring the case to "the appropriate legal authority". <b1>

To ease the tension with the Iraqi government following the shooting, the US State Department and the Defence Department have respectively conducted investigations. A US-Iraqi joint team is also undertaking another separate investigation.

Blackwater, established in 1997, is the biggest of the State Department's three private security contractors. In the past three years, the private security contractor has dismissed 122 people for problems ranging from misusing weapons, alcohol and drug violations, inappropriate conduct, and violent behaviour, says a congressional report released Monday.

The report by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee also says Blackwater has been involved in 195 shooting incidents since 2005, or roughly 1.4 per week.

"In the vast majority of instances in which Blackwater fired shots, Blackwater is firing from a moving vehicle and does not remain at the scene to determine if the shots resulted in casualties," according to the report.

Despite its questionable performance, the company has won government contracts totally worth more than $1 billion since 2001, it added.

On September 16, at least 11 Iraqis were killed in a shooting when Blackwater guards were trying protecting a US diplomatic convoy in Baghdad.

Blackwater said its guards acted in self-defence after the convoy came under attack but Iraqi witnesses have denied any attack.

First Published: Oct 02, 2007 11:32 IST