UK security company shuts Baghdad Airport over payment row

IRAQI troops are to take over security at Baghdad Airport after the UK security company in charge shut it down because of a pay dispute with the fledgling government.

The London-based Global Strategies Group, which had provided security at the sprawling airport since last year, yesterday claimed it was owed six months of contract payments by the Iraqi Ministry of Transport and announced it would suspend its operations. All flights in and out of the city were suspended.

However, acting Transportation Minister Esmat Amer said the Iraqi Cabinet had approved the dispatch of troops to take over from the firm. "This issue is related to Iraq's sovereignty, and nobody is authorised to close the airport," he said.

Mr Amer said the government had been trying to renegotiate a now-lapsed Ј2.5 million monthly contract which Global had signed with the defunct US Coalition Provision Authority, reported