Monday, October 15, 2007

US merc company under fire; NATO kills 3 civilians, says cop

US private security company USPI stands accused of overbilling on their contracts in Afghanistan, according to the Associated Press (link). The largest private force in the country, USPI allegedly claimed expenses and employees which didn't exist.

USPI's hiring practices in Afghanistan have drawn criticism from the International Crisis Group, a Belgium-based think tank that works to prevent and resolve deadly conflict.

In a 2005 report on disarmament in Afghanistan, the group said a majority of the men on USPI's payroll are associated with private militias and have not gone through formal channels.

"Many have used their authority to engage in criminal activity, including drug trafficking," the report said.

Later that year, the firm drew attention again when an Afghan official said an American supervisor for USPI allegedly shot to death his Afghan interpreter and was flown out of the country the next day. USPI officials have declined to comment on the incident.

Meanwhile, the deputy police chief of Wardak province reports that a NATO air strike killed 3 civilians and injured 7 along with killing 5 Taliban. A NATO spokesperson denied the accusation, saying "We double-checked that. There were no civilian casualties" (link).

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