Slain Iraqis 'of no threat' to Blackwater guards

An Iraqi looks at a burnt car on the site where Blackwater guards who were escorting US embassy officials opened fire in the western Baghdad neighbourhood of Yarmukh, September 24, 2007The 14 Iraqi civilians mowed down by four guards with the Blackwater private security firm were of no threat and “were not legitimate targets,” a prosecutor said Wednesday, as their high-profile trial reached its climax. The four, who were guarding a US diplomatic convoy when they opened fire, are accused of shooting dead the unarmed Iraqis, including women and children, who were desperately trying to flee for their lives on September 16, 2007 in Baghdad’s Nisour Square. The hail of gunfire, which also wounded 18 people, exacerbated Iraqi resentment toward Americans and was seen by critics as an example of the impunity enjoyed by private security firms on the US payroll in Iraq. At the close of the two-and-a-half-month trial in a federal court in Washington, US Attorney Anthony Asuncion asked simply what had motivated the men, now former Blackwater employees, to fire on the terrified civilians.

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