Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki says he believes the U.S. security firm involved in the fatal shootings of Iraqis last month should be barred from the country.
Maliki Wednesday said he is closely following investigations into the security provider Blackwater USA. He said he has been told that Blackwater has been involved in multiple incidents that have killed or wounded a total of 190 people.
On Tuesday, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said he plans to issue orders that would lead to increased supervision of private security personnel working for the U.S. military in Iraq.
Gates said he is basing his recommendations on an assessment provided by a five-member team he sent to Iraq last week.
Earlier Tuesday, the chairman of security contractor Blackwater USA defended his company's actions to U.S. lawmakers investigating private security firms in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Also Tuesday, Members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee questioned Blackwater Chairman Erik Prince about his company's policies and its reaction to incidents in which Blackwater employees killed Iraqi civilians.
Prince maintains his company acted appropriately at all times.
A report prepared by the House committee's staff says Blackwater has been involved in at least 195 shooting incidents in Iraq since 2005. The report says Blackwater fired first in more than 80 percent of the incidents, in violation of its contract.
Blackwater USA provides security for U.S. diplomats in Iraq. The company has received more than $1 billion from federal contracts since 2001.
Some information for this report was provided by AFP.