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Six Blackwater Worldwide security guards have been notified that they could face prosecution in America for shooting dead 17 civilians in Baghdad’s Nisoor Square in an infamous incident that provoked fury in Iraq.
The Blackwater employees have reportedly been sent “target letters” by US prosecutors telling them that they could face charges for opening fire at the crowded intersection on September 16 last year.
The move was welcomed by human rights activists, who have long complained about US private security in Iraq.
The shootings sparked a crisis in relations between the US and the Iraqi Government, which threatened to expel Blackwater. In negotiations on a new bilateral security agreement, the Iraqis have pressed for all foreign personnel to be subject to Iraqi law.
Washington has agreed to place contractors under Iraqi jurisdiction, but is still refusing to allow Iraq to put US troops or officials on trial. Blackwater, based in North Carolina, has announced that it is moving out of private security and will concentrate on training, aviation and logistics.