IFJ Calls for Independent Probe Over Three More Media Killings Involving US Troops

The International Federation of Journalists today called on the United States to investigate three new cases of journalists killed in Iraq over the past week – all of them at the hands of United States soldiers.

The first reported victim is Yasser Salihee, an Iraqi special correspondent for the United States media company Knight Ridder, was shot to death in Baghdad last Friday, apparently by a US sniper.

On Sunday, Maha Ibrahim, a news editor with the local Baghdad TV channel, owned by the Iraqi Islamic Party, was on her way to work when she was killed when US troops opened fire after they apparently came under attack in a Baghdad neighbourhood.

And on Tuesday this week US troops reportedly killed Ahmed Wael Bakri, a programme director for al-Sharqiya television when he drove near a US convoy in Baghdad.

The IFJ says this brings to 17 the number of journalists and media staff killed by US soldiers since the invasion of Iraq.

“All of these cases need to be investigated independently because they involve reports of action by US troops,” said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. “Most of the 85 deaths of media staff since the invasion are the responsibility of insurgents and terrorists, but a growing number concern US forces and each of these cases must be fully explained.”

Of the 85 media deaths in Iraq since the invasion, 65 are local Iraqi journalists and media staff.

According to reports to the IFJ Salihee, aged 30, was driving alone near his home in the western Baghdad neighborhood of Amariyah when a single bullet pierced his windshield and then his skull. Some reports suggested that there had been some shooting in the area at the time. He was shot as his car neared a patrol of American and Iraqi troops.

In the case of Ibrahim, her channel director Saad al-Bayati said Ibrahim and her husband were on their way to the station when she was fired upon.

Dr. Muhanad Jawad of the Yarmouk Hospital is reported to have said that Bakri was shot when he failed to pull over as the US convoy passed in the area. Bakri also worked for al-Iraqiya television. He was on his way to visit his in-laws at the time of the shooting.

”There are many questions raised by these cases,” said White. “We expect the United States to produce credible and exhaustive reports on all of these deaths. It is the least the family, friends and colleagues of the victims expect.”