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18 May, 2009 12:24

Rebranded Blackwater in scandal again

Four American contractors for Xe – the private security firm formerly known as Blackwater – claim they are being held against their will by the company in Afghanistan, following a shooting incident on May 5.

Xe says the US Department of Defense asked the men not to leave the country, but according to contractors themselves, they were cleared to leave. That company chose to hold them on their own authority.

This follows an alleged gun battle incident, which took place following a traffic accident and saw an Afghan man killed and two others injured.

The US military says a car came at four contractors after a traffic accident in Kabul and they felt threatened.

Lawyers for the four men are accusing the company of keeping the men captive against their will and imposing its own form of justice. They also claimed Xe is trying to work a deal to let the company stay in Afghanistan in exchange for handing the men over to authorities.

Notorious PMC

Back in September 2007 armed guards employed by Blackwater were involved in a lethal gun battle in Baghdad's busy Nisoor Square, which left 17 civilians dead, and another 20 injured.

After the Nisoor Square incident, Iraqi officials forbade Blackwater operations in the country. Several months later, in February 2008, Blackwater changed its name to Xe – pronounced ‘Zee’.

The State Department chose to renew Blackwater's contract in April 2008, despite the ban, but from January this year, Iraqi authorities denied Xe an operating license. Its primary area of work is now Afghanistan.