Saturday, February 27, 2010

Blackwater guards stole weapons in Kabul and went on deadly rampage

Blackwater guards stole weapons in Kabul and went on deadly rampage

Private American security guards working for the US military in Afghanistan removed hundreds of handguns and automatic weapons from stores intended for the exclusive use of the Afghan police and used them on drunken shooting rampages that killed two Afghan civilians and injured at least two more.

The guards included a former US Marine with a criminal record of assault and battery and a former soldier discharged from the US Army after testing positive for cocaine, Congress heard yesterday.

Justin Cannon, Christopher Drotleff and a guard using the name “Eric Cartman” from the cartoon South Park were employees of a subsidiary of the Blackwater Worldwide group, implicated in a litany of extrajudicial shootings since 2003 in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Cannon and Drotleff have been charged with killing two Afghans and injuring a third in an incident last May when they opened fire on a car carrying four civilians in Kabul, while under the influence of alcohol. The men, who were hired to train Afghan soldiers, had no permission from US authorities to carry guns.

A congressional investigation in response to the shooting has revealed an e-mail from a former vicepresident of Paravant, the Blackwater subsidiary, saying: “We have not received formal permission from the army to carry weapons yet, but I will take my chances.”

The investigation found that more than 500 AK47 rifles had been removed from the bunker by Blackwater staff without permission. Blackwater has been renamed Xe Services since its staff killed 17 civilians in Baghdad in 2007. Its licence in Iraq has been withdrawn by the Iraqi Government.

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