Official: Iran opens 5 border crossings

Updated: 2007-10-08 20:09

A spokesman for the Kurdish regional government in northern Iraq, Jamal Abdullah, expressed hope the resumed flow of traffic and goods would help reduce price hikes that had plagued the region since the closures.

The reopening is in the "economical interests of both countries," Abdullah said, adding that Tehran and Baghdad share the responsibility to "prevent gunmen from having access to either side of border."

The frictions come at a time when Iraqi-US relations also are strained over the September 16 killing of Iraqi civilians allegedly by security guards from Blackwater USA, which protects American diplomats in Iraq.

An official Iraqi investigation into the Blackwater shootings has raised the number of Iraqis killed to 17 - six more than previously thought - and concluded the gunfire was not warranted and that those involved should face trial.

Government spokesman, Ali al-Dabbagh, announced Sunday that the Iraqi investigative committee had completed its work and found that 17 were killed and 23 wounded.

The committee asserted the shootings, in which also seven cars were burnt or damaged, amounted to a deliberate murder and recommended those involved be held legally accountable.

Its final results showed that the convoy from the Moyock, N.C.-based security company did not come under direct or indirect fire at western Baghdad's Nisoor Square. "It was not hit even by a stone," al-Dabbagh said in a statement.

A US-Iraqi commission also met for the first time on Sunday to review American security operations after the September 16 shootings.

The panel is one of at least three investigations on the incident. Blackwater contends its employees came under fire first. The incident has caused outrage among Iraqis and stepped up calls for the rules governing those protecting American diplomats to be overhauled.

Al-Dabbagh said the Iraqi Cabinet would weigh the Iraqi findings with those of the joint commission "and subsequently adopt the legal procedures to hold this company accountable."

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