November 13, 2007 in Nation/World

Iraqi taxi driver shot, killed

Sameer N. Yacoub Associated Press

BAGHDAD – A private security guard fatally shot an Iraqi taxi driver, Iraqi officials said Monday, in the latest incident involving what Iraqis believe are unprovoked killings by contractors hired to protect Americans.

A spokesman for DynCorp International, a Falls Church, Va.-based company, said one of its security teams opened fire Saturday to disable a vehicle in Baghdad after it approached a convoy in a threatening manner.

“Our team had reported that they believed no one was injured. So although there were conflicting reports, we are trying to determine if the incidents are one and the same,” said Gregory Lagana, DynCorp’s senior vice president for communications.

Lagana said the standard procedure in such cases is to fire a single shot into the engine block to disable the vehicle. “There may have been more than one shot taken, but I don’t think it was several,” he said.

Meanwhile, at least 13 deaths were reported across Iraq as violence continued Monday, but at drastically reduced levels from several months ago.

DynCorp International is among three firms – along with Blackwater Worldwide and Triple Canopy – under contract to protect American diplomats and other officials in Iraq.

Iraqi officials said the shooting took place Saturday at 12:45 p.m. across from a children’s playground in Baghdad’s Atafiyah neighborhood, when a taxi driver pulled up close to a convoy of seven U.S. vehicles.

Security personnel signaled for the taxi to pull away, and then one of the guards opened fire on the car, they said.

The driver was shot in the chest and head but was still alive when local shopkeepers and police rushed to help him, witnesses and police said. He died in a police car on the way to the hospital, said Ahmed Adel, a barber who watched the events unfold.

U.S. Embassy spokesman Philip T. Reeker said DynCorp reported a “security incident” Saturday involving one of its teams and that the embassy’s regional security office was “following this closely.”

But Reeker could not confirm any details of the incident, including whether anyone was killed or wounded.

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