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GUARDS ACCUSED OF WILD SHOOTING

Prosecutors say the Blackwater guards acted without regard for Iraqi civilians.

WASHINGTON -Private security guards who worked for Blackwater repeatedly shot wildly into the streets of Baghdad without regard for civilians long before they were involved in a 2007 shooting episode that left at least 14 Iraqis dead, federal prosecutors charge in a new court document.

At least one guard fired his weapon "without aiming" while another deliberately fired his weapon into the streets in order to "instigate gunbattles in a manner that was inconsistent with the use of force and escalation of force policies that governed all Blackwater personnel in Iraq," the prosecutors stated.

The accusations are in a document filed by prosecutors last week in the criminal case against five former Blackwater guards, who have been charged with manslaughter in federal court in Washington in connection with the shootings in Nisour Square, in Baghdad, on Sept. 16, 2007.

The guards, who were on contract with the State Department at the time, have pleaded not guilty. The trial is set to begin in February 2010.

SOLDIER ARRESTED: An American soldier was arrested in connection with the fatal shooting Sunday of a civilian contractor on an American military base in the northern Iraqi city of Tikrit, the military said. Houston-based KBR said in an e-mailed statement that the contractor was one of its employees, 27-year-old Lucas Vinson.

Elsewhere in northern Iraq, the wife and three children of an Iraqi policeman were found shot dead in their home Sunday morning in Banja, a small community just north of Kirkuk.

JOURNALIST CELEBRATED: In anticipation of the release from an Iraqi prison today of Muntadhar al-Zeidi, the Iraqi journalist who threw his shoes at former President George W. Bush, relatives began celebrations Sunday, waving Iraqi flags and putting up posters of the reporter.

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