The International Federation of Journalists said the death of a British journalist in Afghanistan, who was travelling with United States marines when he was caught in an explosion, was further evidence of the high risks involved in “embedding” journalists with soldiers.
He was the second reporter to die travelling with the military in recent weeks. Rupert Hamer, the defence correspondent of the Sunday Mirror, died of his wounds at the scene of the blast north-west of Nawa in Helmand Province His colleague, photographer Philip Coburn, was critically injured in the blast. Two soldiers were also killed.
“We are shocked by this incident and send our sincere condolences to the friends, family and colleagues of Rupert Hamer,” said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. “His death shows that Afghanistan remains one of the world’s most dangerous reporting assignments. Travelling with the army does not lessen the risk to reporters. Indeed, as this tragedy shows, it can put journalists directly in the firing line.”
The two journalists were accompanying a patrol by the marines when their vehicle was caught in a bomb blast. Hamer was a distinguished journalist and a veteran of conflict reporting who had served in Iraq and was on his fifth trip to Afghanistan. He was married with children aged six, five and 19 months.
He is the second foreign journalist embedded with troops to be killed in Afghanistan in recent weeks. Michelle Lang, aged 34, working for the Calgary Herald, in Canada, died along with four Canadian soldiers in another roadside bomb attack in December.
“These terrible tragedies show that telling the story of conflict remains the most perilous of tasks for media staff,” said White. “As we mourn and wish those injured a swift recovery we must redouble our efforts to reduce the risks that journalists face, even when we know that casualties are unavoidable.”
Ten days ago, the IFJ released its annual statement on journalists killed in 2009 providing details of 137 deaths of media staff, including around 113 targeted killings, one of the highest numbers ever recorded.
For more information contact the IFJ at +32 2 235 2207 or +32 478258669 (GSM)
The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 125 countries worldwide