British contractor held over Iraq deaths

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The Independent Online

A British security contractor being held by Iraqi police on suspicion of murdering two of his colleagues had been back in the country for a matter of days.

Danny Fitzsimmons only re-joined ArmorGroup Iraq at the end of July, spokesman for the company Patrick Toyne-Sewell said.

He had worked as a contractor for various companies in Iraq since 2004 and last year "took some time out" before returning.

It is alleged he fatally shot his colleagues fellow Briton Paul McGuigan and Australian Darren Hoare in a "squabble" today.

Mr Fitzsimmons could become the first Westerner to face an Iraqi trial on murder charges since an agreement giving foreign workers immunity was lifted

He is also accused of wounding an Iraqi as he tried to flee the scene of the attack in Baghdad's International Zone this morning.

Iraqi military spokesman Major General Qassim al-Moussawi said: "It started as a squabble. The suspect is facing a premeditated murder charge. The matter is now in the hands of Iraqi justice."

The Foreign Office said two Britons were being held in custody, but this was dismissed by Iraqi officials.

Mr Toyne-Sewell said ex-Royal Marine Mr McGuigan, 37, had worked for the company in Iraq for six years.

He has family in Scotland and most recently headed up a team tasked with "personal security".

ArmorGroup Iraq released a statement which said: "I can confirm the deaths of two ArmorGroup Iraq employees in the early hours of this morning in a firearms incident in the International Zone in Baghdad.

"The two men were Paul McGuigan, a British national, and Darren Hoare, an Australian national. Their next of kin have been informed and we are supporting them as much as we can in these tragic circumstances.

"We are working closely with the Iraqi authorities to investigate the circumstances of their deaths."

The deaths come two months after five Americans were arrested in connection with the stabbing of fellow contractor James Kitterman from Houston. They were later taken into US custody.

A spokeswoman for the Foreign Office said: "The Iraqi police are investigating a shooting incident in Baghdad in which one British national was killed. A further two British nationals are being held in Iraqi custody and one Australian national was also killed in the incident."