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Two US security guards arrested by Iraqi forces after woman is shot

By Kim Gamel in Baghdad

Iraqi soldiers detained two US security guards along with other foreigners in a private convoy after the guards opened fire in Baghdad, wounding one woman.

US military and embassy officials had no immediate information about the report by the Iraqi military, which follows a series of recent shootings in which foreign security guards have allegedly killed Iraqis.

Brig-General Qassim al-Moussawi said the convoy was driving on the wrong side of the road in the central Baghdad neighborhood of Karradah when the shooting occurred. Those arrested included two US guards, along with 21 people from Sri Lanka, nine from Nepal and 10 Iraqis, the Baghdad military spokesman said.

"We have given orders to our forces to immediately intervene in case they see any violations by security companies. The members of this security company wounded an innocent woman and they tried to escape the scene, but Iraq forces arrested them," Brig-Gen Al-Moussawi said.

The role of private security guards has been highlighted following a shooting on 16 September in which Blackwater Worldwide guards killed 17 Iraqi civilians. The FBI is investigating the shootings, although the Iraqi government has concluded that the guards were unprovoked when they began shooting at Nisoor Square in west Baghdad.

The North Carolina-based company, the largest private security firm protecting US diplomats in Iraq, has said its convoy was under attack before it opened fire. The shootings occurred on a day in which at least 22 people were killed or found dead.

ABC News reported yesterday that a US grand jury has opened an investigation into the deaths of the 17 Iraqis. ABC said several Blackwater guards had been subpoenaed in the inquiry by the federal grand jury in Washington. US Justuce Department and Blackwater officials would not confirm the report. AP

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