Blackwater Guards Indicted in U.S.

Five employees of the US security firm Blackwater have been indicted over the 2007 fatal shooting of 17 Iraqis, after surrendering to US authorities in Utah.

Contracted to defend US diplomats, the firm says its guards acted in self-defence when they opened fire when ambushed by Baghdad insurgents.

The five men are charged with 14 counts of manslaughter, as well as weapons violations and attempted manslaughter.

A sixth guard has pleaded guilty to killing at least one Iraqi. The Iraqi government has welcomed the move to hold “criminals accountable”.

The killings have become a central issue in Iraq’s relationship with the US and raised questions about the oversight of US contractors operating in war zones. Witnesses and family members maintain the shooting on 16 September 2007 was unprovoked.