"A US military convoy opened fire on a column of cars Sunday morning, killing at least two Iraqi civilians in southern Iraq and igniting a new round of anger over the apparent loss of innocent life", the US McClatchy Newspapers chain reported on November 18. "Police charged that the shootings were unprovoked and said six people, including two Iraqi policemen, died in a barrage of bullets."
The US military and the US embassy issued a joint statement that same day regretting the loss of "innocent life".
The shooting incident occurred in the town of Samawa, in Iraq's southern Muthanna province. The next day, McClatchy reported that, according to local police Captain Nayef Salem Ali, who's responsible for checkpoints in the city, the US convoy was travelling down a two-way street when it encountered traffic coming in the opposite direction. He said the US troops opened fire on the oncoming vehicles, which included cars and trucks, striking five.
McClatchy also reported that the governor of Muthanna province said US troops were no longer welcome in the town of Samawa.
"We don't want the American troops to enter Samawa, and we will oppose if they enter", said the governor, Ahmed Marzook al Salal, who suspended cooperation with US reconstruction efforts on November 18 to protest the shooting.
Agence France Presse reported on November 19 that "Iraqi soldiers detained a group of private security guards after they opened fire in central Baghdad on Monday wounding a woman and rekindling controversy over the operations of foreign contractors". Two US security guards working for PDS had been detained, an Iraqi army spokesperson told news agencies.
A week earlier, the New York Times had reported that an FBI investigation had found that at least 14 Iraqis were killed without justification when security guards employed by the Blackwater private military company opened fire in a crowded Baghdad neighbourhood on September 16 as they protected a US State Department convoy.
On October 10, guards employed by Australian-managed security firm Unity Resources Group raked a car with automatic gunfire, killing two women in central Baghdad. A month later, on November 10, guards of US company Dyncorp shot dead a taxi driver in the north Baghdad neighbourhood of Utafiya as they were escorting US diplomats.
Washington's puppet Iraqi government says there are more than 180, mainly US and European, mercenary ("private security")
firms operating in Iraq, with estimates of the number of their armed personnel put at between 25,000 and 48,000.
Under a decree issued by the US occupation authority that governed Iraq until 2004, foreign security companies are exempt from Iraqi laws. However, under massive public outrage over the Blackwater shooting spree, the Iraqi cabinet approved legislation earlier this month that places restrictions on foreign security guards. The Iraqi parliament has yet to vote on the legislation.
Meanwhile, the November 16 London Telegraph reported that the "British army says violence in Basra has fallen by 90% since it withdrew from the southern Iraqi city earlier this year". British General Graham Binns told reporters in Baghdad: "We thought, 'If 90 percent of the violence is directed at us, what would happen if we stepped back?'"