Wed, Nov 21, 2007 - Page 7 News List

Foreigners, Iraqis detained by Iraqi forces


Iraqi troops detained 43 people, among them Sri Lankans, Nepalese and Iraqis, after a shooting incident involving the convoy of a private security company in Baghdad, the US military said yesterday.

An Iraqi military official had earlier said a woman was wounded in Monday's shooting in Baghdad's central Karrada neighborhood when the streets were crowded with shoppers.

US military spokesman Major Winfield Danielson said that the company involved, Dubai-based Almco Group, is contracted to the US military in Iraq, "but we haven't confirmed whether or not they were supporting our contract at the time of the incident."

Initial reports said that those detained included 10 Iraqis, 21 Sri Lankans, nine Nepalese, one Indian and two Fijians. They were being held at an Iraqi army camp.

"There are coalition forces staying with the detained individuals," Danielson said.

Thousands of Asian workers are employed in the service industry connected to the vast US military operation in Iraq. It is believed those detained were being escorted by Iraqi security guards at the time of the incident.

Almco, which has contracts with the US military to provide food and water to military transition teams, has not commented on the incident.

An Iraqi security official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the incident occurred as a convoy of vehicles passed through Karrada, a busy shopping district.

"They tried to disperse the cars on the road and make their way through when guards in one of their convoy vehicles opened fire. One woman was wounded.

The official said the streets were crowded at the time of the shooting and people quickly gathered around the vehicles, preventing them from moving. Iraqi soldiers arrived minutes later and made the arrests.

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