“Ruthless Killings” Spark New IFJ Safety Alert for Media in Iraq

The International Federation of Journalists today warned that “Iraq remains the world’s most volatile and dangerous conflict zone where journalists’ safety cannot be guaranteed”, after two CNN employees were killed, and a third was slightly wounded this afternoon when the cars in which they were travelling were ambushed on the outskirts of Baghdad.

Their deaths bring the official media death toll during and after the war in Iraq to 20 journalists and media staff killed with two journalists still missing presumed dead. “The clear and present danger for all journalists working in this country has by no means passed,” said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary, “and more than ever journalists and media staff must exercise extreme caution.”

On 27 January, translator and producer Duraid Isa Mohammed and driver Yasser Khatab died of multiple gunshot wounds as they were returning to Baghdad in a two-car convoy from an assignment in the southern city of Hillah. Cameraman Scott McWhinnie, in the other vehicle, was grazed in the head by a bullet.

A delegation of the International Federation of Journalists and the Federation of Arab Journalists, led by IFJ General Secretary Aidan White and FAJ Vice-President Mahboob Ali, on Sunday concluded a week-long visit to Iraq with a call for international support for a practical programme to build unity, professionalism and a secure environment for Iraqi journalism.

The mission also coincided with the launch of a series of safety training workshops last week for Iraqi journalists and foreign reporters working in Baghdad The safety training was organised by the International News Safety Institute (INSI), the global news safety group specialising in assistance to journalists working in dangerous areas.

In other security developments, a terrorism threat has prompted correspondents from Kyodo News Service to temporarily flee Samawah, southern Iraq, and return to Baghdad.

The Japanese Foreign Ministry has warned all news organizations belonging to the Foreign Ministry's press club that there is a possibility that Japanese nationals will be the targets of terrorist attacks in Iraq, and urged them to ensure the safety of their correspondents in the country.

“The crisis in Iraq continues to put every journalist in danger,” said White. “These ruthless killers are making free journalism almost impossible. Media organisations must redouble their efforts to reduce the risks their employees face."

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The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 100 countries