Government extends work by Blackwater successor in Iraq

WASHINGTON Wed Sep 2, 2009 7:23pm EDT

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The State Department said on Wednesday it has asked the company formerly known as Blackwater to continue providing security services to U.S. diplomats in Iraq because the company hired to replace it was not ready to take over.

Xe Services, formerly known as Blackwater, earlier this year learned its State Department contract in Iraq would not be renewed after some of its guards were accused of killing Iraqi civilians while protecting U.S. diplomats in Baghdad.

In 2007, the company's guards opened fire in Baghdad traffic, killing at least 14 unarmed Iraqi civilians in an incident that provoked outrage in Iraq and prompted its government to deny Blackwater a license.

The State Department said it had asked Blackwater to keep providing "aerial services" -- chiefly ferrying U.S. officials around on helicopters -- beyond Thursday, when this work was scheduled to end.

"We have arranged for a temporary extension of the contract," State Department spokesman Ian Kelly told reporters, saying it had done so after the planned successor, Dyncorp, said it needed more time to get ready.

Kelly said the main reason Dyncorp wanted additional time was because of equipment shortages but he provided no details.

(Editing by Will Dunham)

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