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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Iraq expels U.S. security staff linked to civilian deaths

RIA Novosti


MOSCOW, February 11 (RIA Novosti) - The Iraqi authorities have ordered several hundred former employees of the U.S. Blackwater security firm to leave the country in seven days, local television reported.

Blackwater, now called Xe Services, was one of the three private U.S. security contractors hired to protect U.S. diplomats in Iraq. Its guards mistakenly opened fire on Iraqi civilians in September 2007, killing 17 people, including women and children.

"About 250 guards working for the security company Blackwater have been dismissed and given seven days to leave Iraq," the al-Iraqiya TV quoted Iraqi Interior Minister Jawad al-Bolani as saying.

The order came in response to a decision by a U.S. judge in December last year to drop criminal charges against five Blackwater security guards who were involved in the 2007 incident.

The ruling infuriated Iraqis and further strained relations between the United States and Iraq.

The Iraqi parliament said it would pass new laws that would allow prosecution of foreign contract workers in Iraqi courts. The Blackwater employees were immune to Iraqi prosecution at the time of the shooting.

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