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IRAQ: Briton Though to be Private Security Guard Arrested and Released Over Iraq Killing

Private security firms are thought to be Britain's biggest business in the Iraq. 'Although their status is a legal grey area, they are not for the most part subject to Iraqi law - a controversial point to most Iraqis,' says BBC correspondent Caroline Hawley.

BBC Online
November 22nd, 2004

A Briton has been arrested after a gun battle in Baghdad in which a bodyguard of the Iraqi interior minister died. 

Shooting broke out on Monday when the minister's security officers came across a civilian car they believed was behaving suspiciously, it is said.

According to a ministry source, they opened fire and in the exchange one bodyguard died and another was hurt.

The unnamed Briton - believed to be working for a private security firm - was briefly arrested and then released.

'Bystander killed' 
Witnesses said a female bystander also appeared to have been killed in the shoot-out, but police could not confirm that.

The BBC's correspondent in Baghdad, Caroline Hawley, said details were sketchy and it was not clear what the Briton was doing in the centre of the Iraqi capital, where the shootings happened.

It is thought thousands of foreign personnel are in Iraq working for private security firms - it is Britain's biggest business in the country.

Caroline Hawley said: "Although their status is a legal grey area, they are not for the most part subject to Iraqi law - a controversial point to most Iraqis."

A spokesman for the Foreign Office told BBC News the British embassy was urgently looking into the reports.

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