Iraq: Three US troops die as Sadr calls to expel ”criminal” foreign security firms

Published September 18th, 2007 - 07:05 GMT

A blast killed three American troops in Diyala province Tuesday, the military said. In a statement, the American military said the explosion took place near their patrol. Three other soldiers were wounded, it said.

 

Earlier, a car bomb outside the Iraqi Health Ministry in central Baghdad killed at least seven people and injured 23 on Tuesday, police said. The bomb went off in a parking lot close to the ministry, Reuters reported. Police said they were checking another vehicle in the car park which they suspected was also rigged with explosives.

 

In the east Baghdad district of Zayouna, a car bomb killed two people and wounded five others, police said.

 

Meanwhile, prominent Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr on Tuesday demanded the ouster of all "criminal" foreign security firms from Iraq after private contractors killed civilians in a Baghdad square. The Iraqi government has already announced it is revoking the licence of US security firm Blackwater following Sunday's shootout in Baghdad's Al-Yarmukh neighbourhood.

 

"We say the Iraqi government should cancel the licence of this company and all other criminal companies," Sadr said in a statement issued from his headquarters in the holy city of Najaf.

 

"Most of (Blackwater's) members are criminals and those who have left American jails," the statement said, according to AFP.

 

"We have heard of the cowardly attack committed by the so-called security company against our people without any justification," said Sadr. "This has only happened because the occupier brought this company to our country," he added, referring to the US military.

 

"We demand an urgent investigation by the government so that the criminals are punished... We also demand compensation for families of all the dead and wounded."

 

 

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