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Blackwater Says It Can Leave In 72 Hours

Blackwater Worldwide says it is prepared to leave Iraq within 72 ours -- if the State Department says it should go.

Blackwater founder Erik Prince told The Associated Press that while losing the State Department contract would hurt the North Carolina-based company, the move would cause more harm to the diplomats it's protected since soon after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.

Iraqi officials say the lingering outrage over a September 2007 shooting in Baghdad's Nisoor Square that left 17 Iraqi civilians dead led to its decision.

The shooting strained relations between Washington and Baghdad
and fueled the anti-American insurgency in Iraq, where many Iraqis
saw the bloodshed as a demonstration of American brutality and
arrogance.

Five former Blackwater guards have pleaded not guilty to federal
charges in the United States that include 14 counts of manslaughter
and 20 counts of attempted manslaughter.


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