Friday, October 12, 2007

"Every indication of an excessive shooting"

The U.S. military, whose soldiers arrived on the scene shortly after the shootings in Nissor Square, disagrees with Blackwater's version of events:

Blackwater USA guards shot at Iraqi civilians as they tried to drive away from a Baghdad square on Sept. 16, according to a report compiled by the first U.S. soldiers to arrive at the scene, where they found no evidence that Iraqis had fired weapons.

"It appeared to me they were fleeing the scene when they were engaged. It had every indication of an excessive shooting," said Lt. Col. Mike Tarsa, whose soldiers reached Nisoor Square 20 to 25 minutes after the gunfire subsided.

His soldiers' report -- based upon their observations at the scene, eyewitness interviews and discussions with Iraqi police -- concluded that there was "no enemy activity involved" and described the shootings as a "criminal event." Their conclusions mirrored those reached by the Iraqi government, which has said the Blackwater guards killed 17 people.

I'm sure there are those who take issue with the Iraqi civilians' descriptions of the event, but it's difficult to argue with the accounts of soldiers on the scene. By their reckoning, it would appear Blackwater guards shot up Iraqi civilians and then took off, leaving the soldiers to clean up the mess.

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