November 20, 2007 in Nation/World

Iraqis detain 43 after shooting

Kim Gamel Associated Press
 

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Photographer to face charges

» WASHINGTON – The U.S. military has decided to turn over an Associated Press photographer to an Iraqi court for criminal prosecution, accusing him of having links to terrorist groups operating inside Iraq.

» The photographer, Iraqi native Bilal Hussein, was taken into custody by U.S. troops in Ramadi 19 months ago and has been detained ever since. Although an AP lawyer said Hussein has been held with little evidence, Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell said Monday the military decided to bring a criminal case after new evidence was uncovered.

» According to an AP investigation, Hussein was picked up after a bombing in Ramadi in April 2006 when he offered shelter and food to others fleeing the explosion.

Los Angeles Times

BAGHDAD – Iraqi troops detained 43 people, mostly Sri Lankans and other foreigners, in a convoy run by a U.S.-contracted company after an Iraqi woman was wounded in a Baghdad shooting involving their vehicles, the U.S. military said. It denied reports two Americans also were arrested.

The incident follows a series of recent shootings in which foreign security guards have allegedly killed civilians. Last month, the Cabinet sent parliament a bill to lift immunity for foreign private security companies that has been in effect since the U.S. occupation began in 2003.

The convoy belonged to Almco Group, an Iraqi-run company based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, which has contracts with U.S.-led forces to provide food, water and other life support functions to military transition teams, as well as the construction of a justice compound, Maj. Brad Leighton said.

But the military spokesman said it was not yet known if those detained were working on those contracts. Almco officials did not immediately respond to phone calls or e-mails seeking comment.

Brig. Gen. Qassim al-Moussawi, the chief Iraqi military spokesman in Baghdad, said the convoy was driving on the wrong side of the road in the central Baghdad neighborhood of Karradah when the woman was wounded in a shooting that took place about midday.

The role of private security guards has become particularly controversial since a Sept. 16 shooting in which Blackwater Worldwide guards killed 17 Iraqi civilians at Baghdad’s Nisoor Square.

The FBI is continuing its investigation into the shootings, although the Iraqi government has concluded that the security guards were unprovoked when the began shooting.

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