By Amit R. Paley
Washington Post Foreign Service
Monday, October 15, 2007
BAGHDAD, Oct. 14 -- The Iraqi government has demanded that Blackwater Worldwide, the private security firm that guards top U.S. diplomats in Iraq, be expelled from the country within six months and pay $8 million in compensation to the family of every civilian its employees are accused of killing last month, Iraqi officials said.
The demands were contained in a report prepared by Iraqi investigators probing the shooting in downtown Baghdad, in which they said 17 Iraqis were killed after Blackwater guards opened fire without provocation. The findings were described by Iraqi officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because the report has not been made public.
The Sept. 16 incident sparked widespread outrage across Iraq and prompted heightened scrutiny here and in the United States of shootings by foreign security firms that have left scores of Iraqis dead.
Anne E. Tyrrell, a spokeswoman for Blackwater, said she had not seen the report and hoped no decisions would be made until an investigation by the FBI has been completed. The company has said its guards opened fire after they came under attack.
When asked what Blackwater would do if the U.S. Embassy asked it to comply with the Iraqi demands, Tyrrell said: "I'm not going to answer hypotheticals, but yes, we would do anything the U.S. government asked us to do. We're not going to stay behind if we were asked to leave."
The spokeswoman for the U.S. Embassy could not be reached by telephone or e-mail late Sunday night.
Violence continued across Iraq on Sunday as Muslims celebrated Eid al-Fitr, the three-day festival marking the end of Ramadan, the holy month of fasting. In Baghdad, a car bomb killed at least nine worshipers headed to a Shiite mosque, and a roadside bomb killed a U.S. soldier, the Associated Press reported.
Correspondents Sudarsan Raghavan and Joshua Partlow and special correspondent Zaid Sabah contributed to this report.