The ordeal of journalists caught in the Iraq conflict has intensified over the last four days with reports of five killings of journalists says the International Federation of Journalists. The IFJ says that safety and security for media staff and civil society must be a “top priority” for the new government.
Two Al-Hurriya television journalists were killed in suicide bombings while on their way to an assignment in Baghdad on April 14th. Producer Fadhil Hazim and cameraman Ali Ibrahim Isa were killed en route to an event honouring the new president, Jalal Talabani. They were in a car when the bombs exploded outside the Interior Ministry. Two other Al-Hurriya employees in the car, Shakir Awad and Mohammed Ibrahim, were injured.
Al-Hurriya, a station financed by the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, has now lost three journalists in the war. Fadhil and Isa are both Iraqi; their deaths continue a 16-month trend in which the vast majority of journalist fatalities in Iraq have involved local people.
The day after this attack the IFJ affiliate in the region, the Kurdistan Journalists Syndicate, reported the killing of another two television journalists, Shadman Abdulla, working for Kirkuk TV, and Laiq Abdulla from Kurdistan Satellite TV (KTV).
The Syndicate also reported that at the weekend another journalist, Ahmed al-U'badi, working for al-Sabah newspaper, was beheaded in Baghdad apparently by a group known as al-Jihad and al-Tawhit.
“The death toll among Iraqi journalists continues to rise,” said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. “Some 75 journalists and media staff have been killed since the US invasion in March 2003 – and around 55 of them have been local Iraqis. It is an appalling level of loss. The new government must give top priority to the protection of media staff.”
The IFJ backs a statement from the Kurdistan Syndicate protesting over the killings and terrorist acts and calling on the Iraqi authorities to ensure safety for journalists. The Syndicate is working with the IFJ and other Iraqi groups in a programme to assist and protect media staff in the country.
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The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 110 countries