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Iraq: 'Blackwater must go'

  • Story Highlights
  • Adviser: Al-Maliki has asked State Department to "pull Blackwater out of Iraq"
  • State Department says it has received no formal request about Blackwater
  • 17 Iraqis killed, 27 wounded in September 16 incident, Iraqi officials say
  • Blackwater CEO Erik Prince says guards did not commit "deliberate violence"
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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Iraq's prime minister wants private military contractor Blackwater out of his country after an Iraqi probe found Blackwater guards randomly shot civilians without provocation in a Baghdad square last month, an aide said Tuesday.

A man bicycles past a car on September 20 that was damaged during the September 16 Blackwater shootings.

Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and most Iraqi officials are "completely satisfied" with the findings and are "insisting" that Blackwater leave the country, al-Maliki adviser Sami al-Askari told CNN.

The U.S. State Department and the FBI are conducting their own investigation into the September 16 killings in western Baghdad's Nusoor Square, and a joint U.S.-Iraqi commission is reviewing the results of both probes. Mirembe Natango, a U.S. Embassy spokeswoman, said policy recommendations would be up to that commission.

"We need to let the joint commission do its work," Natango said.

The State Department relies on Blackwater contractors to provide security for U.S. Embassy staff and has paid the company more than $830 million for its services since 2004, according to the House Oversight and Government Affairs Committee. In Washington, State Department spokesman Tom Casey said the department has received "no specific request" from Iraq to withdraw the company's contractors.

Iraqi officials said 17 people, including women and children, were killed and 27 were wounded when Blackwater guards fired on motorists around Nusoor Square. The Iraqi investigation has concluded the shootings were an act of "premeditated murder" and recommended that Blackwater pay $8 million to families of each of the people killed.

Blackwater founder and CEO Erik Prince said Sunday the team was attacked and was defending itself at an intersection not far from the heavily guarded Green Zone.

"There was definitely incoming small arms fire from insurgents," Prince said on CNN's "Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer." There was no "deliberate violence," he added. Video Watch more on the Blackwater investigation »

But survivors have told FBI investigators harrowing stories of being shot at by the guards despite presenting no threat. And the first U.S. soldiers to arrive on the scene have told military investigators that they found no evidence the contractors were fired upon, a source familiar with a preliminary U.S. military report told CNN.

The soldiers found evidence suggesting the guards fired on cars that were trying to leave, and found that weapon casings on the scene matched only those used by U.S. military and contractors, the military source said.

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The shootings placed new scrutiny on the operations of Blackwater and other security firms in Iraq, where an estimated 25,000 private contractors protect diplomats, reconstruction workers and government officials. Under a provision put into place in the early days of the U.S.-led occupation of Iraq, security contractors have immunity from Iraqi law.

Earlier this month, the U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly voted to place private contractors overseas firmly under U.S. law, allowing American courts to prosecute crimes committed in a war zone. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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