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Blackwater settles with families of Nisoor Square victims

By Doug Miller, McClatchy Newspapers –

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The security company formerly known as Blackwater has agreed to settle a lawsuit filed by six victims or their families in the Sept. 16, 2007 shootings in Baghdad’s Nisoor Square, an incident that remains a flashpoint over the use of private contractors in war.

Charlotte law firm Lewis & Roberts represented the victims and announced the settlement in a statement Friday evening.

“With respect to the Iraqi families and individuals who were plaintiffs in this lawsuit (it) provides them with compensation so they can now bring some closure to the losses they suffered,” the statement reads.

The firm would not disclose the amount of the settlement.

The lawsuit was the last active civil suit stemming from the incident, in which five Blackwater guards were accused in 14 deaths.

Among the victims was 9-year-old Ali Kinani, who was fatally shot in the head as his father drove near a roadblock.

Charlotte attorneys Gary Mauney and Paul Dickinson and Jim Roberts of Raleigh represented his family and the others in the civil suit. Their suit sought damages in excess of $10,000 on behalf of Ali Kinani and two men, ages 25 and 77, who also died.

They also represented three other victims who claim they were injured in the shooting, including one who died since the suit was filed.

A sixth former Blackwater guard who pleaded guilty to manslaughter said in court documents that a convoy from Blackwater went to Nisoor Square outside the secured Green Zone to help after reports of a nearby car bomb.

Blackwater had maintained that its guards shot in self-defense. The suit claims they were unprovoked.

Other court cases connected to the incident have been settled or fallen apart.

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