Iraqi government ministers today backed the Interior Ministry's decision to close Blackwater USA's operations in Iraq after the security firm was involved in a firefight that authorities say killed eight civilians. The firm said it was protecting a State Department convoy.
Will Iraq Kick Out Blackwater?
TIME has obtained an incident report prepared by the U.S. government describing a fire fight Sunday in Baghdad in which at least eight Iraqis were reported killed and 13 wounded. The deadly incident occurred when a convoy of U.S. personnel protected by Blackwater security contractors came under small arms fire. Blackwater returned fire, resulting in the Iraqi deaths. The loss of life has provoked anger in Baghdad, where the Interior Ministry has suspended Blackwater's license to operate around the country. Several Iraqi government officials have indicated their opposition to Blackwater's continued presence in their country. If the suspension is made permanent, it could significantly impair security for key U.S. personnel in the country, a U.S. official in Baghdad told TIME. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, whose State Department depends on Blackwater to protect its Iraq-based staffers, called Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki to say that the U.S. has launched its own investigation into the matter.