Daughters’ anguish at mother killed by western mercenaries

Three Christian sisters, beating their mother’s coffin in grief, wailed and hugged each other at her funeral in Baghdad yesterday as their rapidly shrinking religious community vented anger at the foreign security guards who killed her.

The three daughters, Aless, 12, Karown, 20, and Noraa, 21, were doubled up in tears as they crowded around their mother’s simple wooden coffin, which was decorated with a small golden cross.

[Their mother] Marou Awanis, a part-time taxi driver, and one of her women passengers, both Armenian Christians, became the latest victims to die at the hands of a foreign private security team in Iraq after they were shot dead in the centre of the capital on Tuesday.

The killings also heightened a sense of outrage towards private security companies, in particular Blackwater, which many people regard as a private army that acts with impunity.

Unity Resources Group, an Australian security outfit based in Dubai, confirmed last night that its guards were responsible for Tuesday’s shooting in Baghdad. It said that the guards opened fire on the speeding car when it refused to slow down after several warnings, “including signs, strobe lights, hand signals and a flare”.

Witnesses and police said that Mrs Awanis, who had been driving two women and a child, mistakenly got too close to a Unity Resources convoy and came under immediate gunfire from the guards.

Scores of relatives and friends gathered at the main Armenian Church in Baghdad. Everyone was shocked that Mrs Awanis, a widow and former agricultural engineer who was forced to drive a taxi to make ends meet, had been killed.

[The Times]

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