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When things go boom in the night, Pakistanis blame Blackwater

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In recent years, Blackwater gained notoriety over allegations of recklessness and excessive, often lethal, force in Iraq and Afghanistan. On Feb. 11, the Iraq government expelled more than 200 current and former foreign security contractors in connection with a 2007 shooting by Blackwater guards in Baghdad that left 17 civilians dead. In December, a US court dismissed charges of manslaughter against five Blackwater employees, a decision Vice President Joe Biden said the US would appeal. Two former Blackwater contractors based in Kabul are facing charges of second-degree murder over the deaths of two Afghans who were allegedly shot in a traffic accident last May.

The buildup of distrust and swirl of rumors have left Pakistanis to imagine the worst about US intentions, fueling already intense anti-Americanism: Blackwater is here to kill and “disappear” people, or seize Pakistan's nuclear weapons if the country falls apart. The US is arming and funding not only the Pakistani Army but also the Taliban, to kill off both sides and take over the country. Most Taliban must be foreigners, because Pakistanis would never kill civilians, as the suicide bombers here do, the theory goes.

The Taliban have exploited these beliefs, warning of Blackwater attacks in the northwest. Last November, the Taliban accused the firm of carrying out a suicide bombing to “malign” the insurgency, which “does not believe in the killing of innocent civilians.”

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