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U.S. investigates Afghan shooting by military contractors

  • Story Highlights
  • Military says the contractors wounded two Afghan civilians in Kabul this month
  • Sources say contractors are linked to firm with same owner as Blackwater
  • Source says the four contractors were allegedly drinking before the incident
From Mike Mount and Suzanne Simons
CNN
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The U.S. military in Afghanistan is investigating a group of military contractors who shot and wounded two Afghan civilians in Kabul earlier this month, according to the military.

The contractors worked for a company called Paravant, which is affiliated with Xe, the new company name for the security contractor Blackwater Worldwide, according to sources familiar with the incident. Paravant is owned by Erik Prince, who is also the owner of Xe.

"The contractors were involved in a vehicle accident in Kabul at approximately 9 p.m. May 5. While stopped for the vehicle accident, the contractors were approached by a vehicle in a manner the contractors felt threatening," according to a U.S. military press release.

"The contractors fired upon the vehicle, reportedly wounding two Afghans," the statement said.

The wounded Afghans were taken to a hospital, according to the release.

The press release did not identify the contracting company. A spokesman for the U.S. Military's Central Command, which oversees combat in Afghanistan, said, "Because the incident remains under investigation, there's no further information available beyond the information in the press release."

A senior source in the contracting industry said that, while off duty, the four contractors were allegedly drinking before the accident.

Anne Tyrrell, a spokeswoman for Xe, the parent company of Paravant, said the company was aware of the incident in Afghanistan involving the four contractors, but was unable to provide specific details for legal reasons.

She said Xe is also conducting its own investigation.

Tyrrell said Xe has terminated the contracts with the four involved for failure to follow standards and regulations set by Xe and all four have been instructed by Xe not to leave the country without the permission of the Department of Defense, Tyrrell said.

Xe and the Army Criminal Investigation Command said they could not provide the identities of the four because of the ongoing investigation.

All four contractors are U.S. military veterans and had been working for Paravant in Afghanistan for the past six months, according to Tyrrell. None of them has worked for Xe or its subsidiaries, including Blackwater, she said.

An industry source familiar with the incident said all four contractors were on their first deployment with the company.

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The U.S. military and Xe would not say what contract work the four were a part of, but Tyrrell said they were working in support of a training contract.

Paravant has training facilities in Moyock, North Carolina, and Mount Carroll, Illinois. The company's Web site says it "provides world-class training to law enforcement, military, and government agencies," and offers "a wide range of courses, from basic firearms to more specific lessons in high-risk hostage training."

All About AfghanistanU.S. Armed Forces Activities

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