Iraq confiscates foreign contractors arms after US court rule

The immunity of the foreign private soldiers ended with a bilateral agreement that took effect in 2009.

Iraq confiscates foreign contractors arms after US court rule

Security forces confiscated hundreds of rifles, thousands of rounds of ammunition and other military gear in a crackdown on private security contractors in Iraq, officials said on Saturday.

Police raided three locations in Baghdad on Friday, a week after Iraqi authorities were frustrated by a U.S. judge's decision to dismiss charges against five Blackwater Worldwide security guards accused of killing over a dozen Iraqi civilians in 2007.

Officials said they are targeting private security companies that are no longer "legally" licensed to operate in Iraq.

"All those companies with their work permits expired are not allowed to move one metre inside Baghdad, or own one piece of weaponry," Baghdad security spokesman Qassim al-Moussawi said.

He would not reveal how many unlicensed contractors were on the list, or their names.

Authorities raided the headquarters of a foreign security contractor, whose name could not be immediately confirmed, on Friday night and confiscated 20,000 rounds of ammunition and more than 300 armoured shields.

In another location they found 400 rifles, helmets, radio devices and more than 35 vehicles believed to belong to the same company, officials said. No one was arrested.

The U.S. invasion in 2003 brought them to Iraq. The foreign private soldiers escaped prosecution. That ended with a bilateral agreement that took effect in 2009.

The Iraqi government called unacceptable the U.S. court's Dec. 31 dismissal of charges against five Blackwater guards accused of shooting indiscriminately in a Baghdad, and said it is taking its own legal steps against the company, now known as Xe Services.

Major General Hussein Kamal, Iraq's deputy interior minister, denied that the Baghdad crackdown was a reprisal for the Blackwater case. He said the ministry had given a group of security firms ample warning to renew their permits.

"We have closed some of the companies and confiscated their weapons and vehicles," he said, adding, "We are not reacting to the (Blackwater) judge's decision."



Reuters


Last Mod: 10 Ocak 2010, 11:13
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