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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Iraq Wants Blackwater Indemnity

BAGHDAD -- The Iraqi government wants U.S. security firm Blackwater to pay $8 million in compensation to each of the families of 17 people killed in a shooting, a senior government source said Tuesday.

The source said the figure was roughly in line with compensation paid by the Libyan government to the families of the 270 people killed in the 1988 Lockerbie airliner bombing over Scotland.

"We want them to pay $8 million for each family," the source said. "The same level as the compensation for the Lockerbie victims."

Blackwater had been told of the demand, the source said. It was unclear what the private U.S. firm's response was.

Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said Sunday that an investigation set up by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki had found that Blackwater "deliberately killed" the 17 people in the Sept. 16 shooting in western Baghdad.

Blackwater has said its guards responded lawfully to a hostile threat against a U.S. State Department convoy that it was guarding, but Dabbagh said the investigation had also found there was no evidence that they had come under fire.

The incident caused outraged among Iraqis who see security contractors like Blackwater as private armies that act with impunity.

Blackwater employs about 1,000 people in Iraq. Its founder, former U.S. Navy SEAL Erik Prince, told a Congressional hearing last week that his men had come under small-arms fire and "returned fire at threatening targets."

U.S. and Iraqi officials working on a joint committee have also begun investigating the shooting.