U.S. Security Firm Involved In Shooting of Iraqi Driver

By Joshua Partlow and Zaid Sabah
Washington Post Foreign Service
Monday, November 12, 2007

BAGHDAD, Nov. 12 -- An Iraqi civilian in Baghdad was shot and killed on Saturday by a guard from an American private security company, DynCorp International, as the man's car was in proximity to the security company convoy, according to two Iraqi policemen.

The shooting was the latest killing involving security companies in Baghdad and threatened to further inflame Iraqi public opinion against contractors at a time when the Iraqi government is attempting to exert legal control over them.

At about 12:45 p.m. on Saturday, a white sedan approached a DynCorp convoy near a bridge over the Tigris River in northwestern Baghdad. As the vehicle pulled out a short distance in front of the convoy, traffic policeman Ahmed Abdul Aziz, 25, said he shouted for it to stop.

"Then I heard the gunshot," he said. "They didn't stop, they just shot him and kept on driving."

Aziz said he believed the shooting, first reported by the New York Times, was unprovoked and unjustified. He said he helped pull the bleeding man from the car and load him into another vehicle to be taken to the hospital.

DynCorp, based in Falls Church, is under contract with the State Department's Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs and provides security for people affiliated with that agency and those from the Department of Justice, said a U.S. official not authorized to discuss the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The company informed the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad that at about 12:45 p.m. Saturday, a private vehicle approached its convoy and after using "non-lethal means to warn the driver of the vehicle to stop," a company guard "discharged his weapon to disable the vehicle," said embassy spokeswoman Mirembe Nantongo.

There were conflicting initial accounts about whether anyone was injured or killed, said an official familiar with the incident. At least one of the Iraqi-driven unarmored vehicles that accompany the DynCorp convoys returned to the scene of the shooting and reported no injuries, the official said, but the company is now assuming there was a killing. DynCorp has been in discussions with the Iraqi Interior Ministry to investigate the incident and respond.

"These kinds of incidents are upsetting for the guys" in the personal security detail team, "and they're very upsetting for the company," said Gregory Lagana, a DynCorp spokesman. "We obviously don't like being involved in situations where there's a death or an injury."

Another traffic police officer said the convoy was driving north through the Utayfiyah neighborhood when the driver approached the security convoy. He said he heard four shots.

"We grabbed him out, and he was bleeding from the nose and mouth, but he was dead already," said the policeman, who asked to be identified by his nickname, Abu Hanan.

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