U.S. and Iraqi officials Wednesday were investigating yet another shooting of Iraqi civilians by a heavily armed security firm linked to U.S. government-financed work in Iraq.
The bodies of Marou Awanis and Geneva Jalal, the women killed in the Tuesday shooting, were taken, meanwhile, to Baghdad's Armenian Orthodox Virgin Mary Church for funeral services.
Iraqi authorities blamed the women's deaths on guards working for Unity Resources Group, a security company owned by Australian partners but with headquarters in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.
Unity provides security services to RTI International, a group based in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, that promotes governance projects in Iraq for the U.S. Agency for International Development.
Both Unity and RTI acknowledged a security contract between them and both entities said RTI staffers were not present when the shooting occurred in Baghdad's Karradah district.
A U.S. Embassy spokeswoman said RTI was under contract by USAID but was responsible for its own security.
"USAID does not direct the security arrangements of contractors," Mirembe Nantongo said.
According to the USAID Web site, RTI has about $450 million in U.S. government contracts to work on local governance projects in Iraq. USAID is a semi-autonomous arm of the U.S. State Department that manages American aide programs.
Michael Priddin, chief operating officer of Unity, told The Associated Press on Wednesday the firm was working with Iraqi authorities "to find out the results of the shooting incident. ...we are trying to work out a true picture of what happened."
In a statement issued Tuesday night, Priddin said, "We deeply regret this incident."
Iraqi government officials, police and witnesses said guards working for Unity fired on a white Oldsmobile as it approached their convoy Tuesday afternoon, killing the two women before speeding away from the latest bloodshed blamed on the deadly mix of heavily armed protection details on Baghdad's crowded streets.
The deaths of the women - including one who used the white sedan as an unofficial taxi to raise money for her family - came a day after the Iraqi government handed U.S. officials a report
of embattled Blackwater USA for a chaotic shooting last month that left at least 17 civilians dead.
has learned that Iraqi witness accounts from the Blackwater incident are remarkably consistent.
The Tuesday killings were certain to sharpen Iraqi government demands to curb the expanding array of security firms in Iraq watching over diplomats, aid groups and others.
Accounts of the incident - from company statements, witnesses and others - suggested the Unity guards opened fire as the car failed to heed warnings to stop and drifted closer to the convoy near a Unity facility in Karrahah.
In other developments: