Iraqi taxi driver killed by security guard

An Iraqi taxi driver was shot dead by a private security guard hired to protect US convoys driving through Baghdad, Iraqi officials said Monday.The incident took place Saturday afternoon, when a taxi driver got close to the convoy in western Baghdad’s Atafiyah neighbourhood, according to Iraq’s interior ministry and a police officer at the nearest station.

The US embassy in Baghdad corroborated that account, but said it could not confirm whether anyone was killed or wounded. It was the latest incident involving what Iraqis believe are unprovoked killings by contractors hired to protect Americans here.

In September, another shooting left 17 Iraqis dead and prompted the Iraqi government to call for the expulsion of the firm involved, Blackwater Worldwide.

Blackwater has said its convoy was under attack before it opened fire, but initial investigations by Iraqi and US authorities have concluded otherwise.

Embassy spokesman Philip T. Reeker said the company involved in Saturday’s shooting was DynCorp. International, one of three firms contracted to protect American officials in Iraq.

“DynCorp. did inform the embassy that at 12:45 on Saturday, there had been a security incident involving a DynCorp. PSD in Baghdad,” Reeker said, using the acronym for private security detail.

“They reported that a private vehicle approached the convoy, and continued to approach to the point where a member of the PSD used his weapon to disable the vehicle,” Reeker told reporters on a regular conference call from Baghdad.

The taxi driver was shot in the head and chest, and died at the scene, the police officer said. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to release the information. Interior ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Abdul Karim Khalaf also said the man had died.

Afterward, police searched the man’s taxi and found no weapons nor any other evidence of suspicious activity, the officer said. The convoy did not stop for the investigation, he said.

Reeker said the convoy was comprised of seven vehicles, but he would not give details about who they were carrying nor their destination.

“These are very upsetting incidents for everyone involved. DynCorp. is working with the Iraqi ministry of interior to investigate,” he said.

Khalaf said the ministry was looking into the incident, and had informed DynCorp. about the investigation.

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