Nabras Mohammed Hadi, Azhar Abdullah al-Maliki, and Sabah Salman--three guards working for the state-run Iraq Media Network--were killed by guards employed by Blackwater Worldwide, a U.S. private security firm, The Washington Post reported.
Blackwater guards escorting an American diplomat to the Iraqi Justice Ministry took positions on the roof of the building, according to the Post. The Iraq Media Network compound, guarded by an Iraqi security team, was adjacent to the ministry at a distance of about 450 feet. An argument ensued between the Iraqi guards and some civilians who wanted to park a car between the ministry and the media compound, the Post said. When Hadi, 23, a guard stationed on a balcony in the compound, stood up with his weapon and shouted at the people on the ground, he was shot by a Blackwater sniper, the paper reported.
When colleagues tried to retrieve Hadi from the balcony, the sniper shot another guard, al-Maliki, 31, in the neck, forcing the others to retreat, the paper reported. An Iraqi army unit in charge of the area responded to the scene and withdrew the bodies of both guards. Hadi died at the scene, while al-Maliki succumbed to his wounds a few hours later at a nearby hospital. Guards discovered Salman, 40, charged with maintaining small arms, lying dead on the same balcony more than an hour after the sniper had fired his first shot, the Post said.
Guards from both the Iraq Media Network and the Justice Ministry, along with the Iraqi army commander and several network officials, said the slain guards did not fire their weapons or provoke the shooting. The Justice Ministry, the Interior Ministry, Iraqi police, and the Iraq Media Network found Blackwater responsible for the incident, the paper reported.
The security firm denied initiating the shooting, saying its employees returned fire after coming under threat.