|A woman and a child inspect a car with blood splattered on the door after two Christian Iraqi women were shot to death in central Karradah, Baghdad, Iraq, on Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2007. Iraqi police, and witnesses said that the men who shot them were in a convoy of four SUVs commonly used by private security companies. While there was no indication Blackwater USA was involved, the attack threatened to increase calls for limits on the security firms that mounted after the Sept. 16 shooting deaths of as many as 17 Iraqi civilians allegedly that company's guards. (AP Photo)|
BAGHDAD --Guards in a security convoy opened fire on a car at an intersection in central Baghdad on Tuesday, killing two Iraqi Christian women then speeding away, police said. The Iraqi government said preliminary reports indicated an American security company was behind the shooting.
Across Iraq, violence claimed the lives of at least 44 people, including 19 who died in coordinated suicide car bombings in the north that targeted a local police chief and a Sunni sheik.
Neither witnesses nor police could immediately say which organization was involved in the Baghdad shooting, but the four-vehicle convoys of armored SUVS are commonly employed by private security companies and the Iraqi Interior Ministry.
Government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said the convoy did not appear to be one from Blackwater USA, which has denied any involvement.
"Preliminary reports indicate that an American security company has opened fire on two women and they were killed," al-Dabbagh told The Associated Press. "But I don't think it's Blackwater."
The womens' deaths threatened to increase calls for limits on the private security firms, which have come under intense scrutiny since the Sept. 16 shooting deaths of as many as 17 Iraqi civilians allegedly by guards with Blackwater, the largest firm protecting U.S. diplomats in Iraq. In that case, the American security company said its employees were acting in self-defense. continued