NEWS

Private Security Contractors Kill 2 Iraqi Women

By Matthew Harwood

More scrutiny is being applied to private security contractors due to another deadly shooting incident involving civilians in Baghdad.

Here's the Associated Press:

Guards working for an Australian-owned security company fired on a car as it approached their convoy Tuesday, killing two women civilians before speeding away from the latest bloodshed blamed on the deadly mix of heavily armed protection details on Baghdad's crowded streets.

The deaths of the two Iraqi Christians — including one who used the white sedan as an unofficial taxi to raise money for her family — came a day after the Iraqi government handed U.S. officials a report demanding hefty payments and the ouster from Iraq of embattled Blackwater USA for a chaotic shooting last month that left at least 17 civilians dead.

The contractors worked for Unity Resources Group, which according to The New York Times, is "an Australian-run company that has its headquarters in Dubai and is registered in Singapore, according to a statement by the company. Unity Resources was hired by RTI [International] to provide security in Iraq."

The AP reports the private security firm has had problems before. In March 2006, the company expressed sympathy for the death of a 72-year old Iraqi-born Australian man killed by one of its contractors at a checkpoint.

The shooting seems to be the product of miscommunication. Witness reports say the contractors saw the car approaching the crossroad where the convoy they were protecting was. The contractors fired a warning shot  and threw a smoke bomb to warn the car not to come closer. When the car did not stop, the contractors opened fire. Besides the two women's deaths, the backseat's occupants were injured, but survived.

For more coverage of this latest shooting incident, the UK's Guardian has original reporting.

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