Sunday, May 27, 2007

The highest-paid gunfighters in the world

WASHINGTON, D.C. (AFP)--Mercenary killers working for a private firm employed by the US State Department opened fire in Baghdad twice last week, once provoking a standoff with Iraqi forces, The Washington Post reported Sunday.

Citing US and Iraqi officials who refused to go on record because you can't trust anyone in this stinking hellhole, the newspaper said that on Thursday, a gunman working for right-wing Christian private army Blackwater USA shot and killed an Iraqi driver near the interior ministry.

Meanwhile on Wednesday, a Blackwater-protected convoy was ambushed in downtown Baghdad, triggering a furious battle, in which the mercenaries, US and Iraqi troops and AH-64 Apache attack helicopters were firing randomly in a crowded urban area like rival crack gangs with close air support.

Blackwater's mercenary killer division holds well over 100 million dollars worth of State Department contracts in Iraq and is authorized to use deadly force with no fear of local or international accountability.

The hired guns have a murky legal status, the Post said, because traveling hitmen often do.

Matthew Degn, a Baghdad-area spook with a murky legal status of his own, described the ministry as "a powder keg" after the Iraqi driver was gunned down Thursday, with anger at Blackwater predictably spilling over to other Americans working in the building, according to the report.

Degn is quoted as saying he was concerned the incident "could undermine a lot of the cordial relationships we've enforced over the past four years of terror and occupation. There's a lot of pissed-off little sand-niggers up here right now."

The Blackwater guards said the victim drove too close to their convoy and drew fire, the Post said. Which sounds a little better than, "He was in range, so we shot at him."

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