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Iraq Says No Appeal Allowed on Blackwater Expulsion

Contractors working for Blackwater USA take part in a firefight in the Iraqi city of Najaf (file)

Iraq's interior minister says 250 private security guards linked to the company formerly known as Blackwater Worldwide, who have been ordered to leave Iraq cannot appeal the expulsion. His comments were made Thursday to the Associated Press.

Minister Jawad al-Bolani says the guards have past or present ties to the controversial U.S.-based security firm. He says they face possible arrest if they do not leave within three days, and the company cannot appeal the expulsion order.

Blackwater recently changed its name to XE Services.

The U.S. government hired Blackwater to provide security services in Iraq. The firm's activities came under scrutiny after five guards were accused of fatally shooting 17 unarmed civilians in Baghdad's busy Nisour Square in September of 2007.

In a move the outraged many Iraqis, a U.S. court dismissed criminal charges against the five Blackwater guards in December, saying prosecutors had mishandled evidence.

Last month U.S. Vice President Joe Biden said the U.S. government planned to appeal the court decision.

The U.S. government has also been investigating claims that Blackwater tried to bribe Iraqi officials as part of an effort to continue its operations in the country. Company officials deny the claims.

Iraqi government officials have said they plan to seek compensation for the families of those killed in Nisour Square.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and AFP.