WASHINGTON, Oct 4 (Reuters) The US government, not Blackwater USA, will handle security for FBI agents in Iraq while they investigate whether the private security firm acted properly in an incident that killed 11 Iraqis, the FBI said today.
''To avoid even the appearance of any conflict, the FBI team deployed from Washington to assist the State Department in the investigation of the events of September 16th will have any additional security needs provided by US government personnel,'' FBI spokesman John Miller said in a statement.
Blackwater usually guards FBI personnel in Iraq under a State Department contract, the FBI said.
Blackwater, which has received US government contracts worth more than a billion dollars since 2001, is under intense scrutiny over its security work in Iraq after a September 16 incident in which 11 Iraqis were killed while the firm was escorting a US embassy convoy through Baghdad.
The State Department and the FBI are investigating the incident, as are the Pentagon and a joint US-Iraqi team.
A congressional report lists 195 shooting incidents involving Blackwater in Iraq from the start of 2005 until September 12 of this year, an average of 1.4 per week. Blackwater fired first in 84 per cent of those incidents, according to the report prepared by the House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
REUTERS JK HS1803