|Such a simple rule could prevent such grave mishaps|
A deadly incident at the Australian embassy in Baghdad that was originally misreported as a sniper attack has now been confirmed as an accidental shooting of one security contractor by another. Non-official sources say the incident occurred in the contractor's on-compound housing facility during a 'heavy drinking session.'
Shooting at Australian embassy in Baghdad: contractor shot dead:
In an incident that will raise significant questions about the security measures for diplomats and the Australian-founded private firm that guards the embassy workers, the former Australian soldier was shot dead early on Thursday morning.
A fellow Australian guard, believed to be a former special forces soldier, was taken to a military base at Baghdad Airport for questioning, sources in Iraq said.
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The shooting is believed to have happened at the contactors' accommodation, which is within the broader embassy compound, giving the [Australian Federal Police] jurisdiction to investigate.
Sources said alcohol was involved in the incident and that the guard who had been taken for questioning had been working in Iraq as a contractor since 2005.
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In February, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade secretary Peter Varghese strongly dismissed reports of problems with the contract with [Unity Resources Group].
Mr Varghese told a Senate hearing that the reports of corner-cutting and a drop in the price paid by the department under the contact had come from "disgruntled former employees" and the claims were "without foundation".
"The department puts the highest priority on the safety and welfare of its employees, and the suggestion that we would run a cut-price security system is, frankly, quite offensive," he said.
"The core question here is: has this contract been managed in a way that doesn't put our staff at any additional risk? And the answer to that is clearly in the affirmative."
Mr Varghese said the department had looked into the media reports about the security issues and was satisfied that security at the Baghdad embassy was "operating effectively and that the transition to the new arrangements has not created any additional risk to our staff".
The new contract price for the security had dropped to $51 million over three years - down from the previous contract of $100 million over five years. But this was due to greater competition among security providers in Iraq, he said.
The dead security contractor had worked in Iraq since 2005?? To have worked for so long in such a high-stress job is very impressive, in one sense. But also very depressing in the larger, political, sense that diplomatic missions in Baghdad still need protection contractors thirteen years after Operation Iraqi Freedom. How many more years will it be before Normal arrives?
The price drop in Australia's protection contract, and possibly consequent drop in contractor morale and performance, is also remarkable as an indicator of what other diplomatic missions in Baghdad may be facing as the years role on. It's like a race to see whether Normal will arrive before security degrades to an intolerable level.