FBI: Blackwater Iraq shootings unjustified

Updated: 2007-11-14 17:16

Investigators have concluded that as many as five of the company's guards opened fire during the shootings.

They found no evidence to support assertions by Blackwater employees that they were fired upon by Iraqi civilians. That finding sharply contradicts initial assertions by Blackwater officials, who said that company employees fired in self-defense.

Government officials said the shooting occurred when security guards fired in response to gunfire by other members of their unit in the mistaken belief that they were under attack. One official told the Times: "I wouldn't call it a massacre, but to say it was unwarranted is an understatement."

Among the 17 killings, three may have been justified under rules that allow lethal force to be used in response to an imminent threat, the FBI agents have concluded, the Times said.

A separate military review of the shootings concluded that all of the killings were unjustified and potentially criminal.

Anne Tyrrell, a Blackwater spokeswoman, told the Times she would have no comment until the FBI released its findings.

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