The International Federation of Journalists today warned that Baghdad is “still a deadly war zone where no journalists safety can be guaranteed,” after a weekend in which a sniper shot and killed a British freelance and an Australian television soundman died of wounds he received in a grenade attack a week ago.
Their deaths bring the official media death toll of the war in Iraq to 19 journalists and media staff killed with two journalists still missing. “This war is by no means over,” said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary, “and more than ever all journalists and media staff must exercise extreme caution. Baghdad is still a war zone.”
On 5 July, journalist Richard Wild, who arrived in Baghdad two weeks ago, was killed outside Iraq's Natural History Museum. Wild was standing in a crowd when he was shot and killed by a single, bullet fired into his head at close range. The assailant fled into the crowd and was not apprehended.
Wild is the first journalist killed in the ambushes, shootings and other attacks blamed on loyalists of Saddam Hussein that have plagued Coalition Forces in Iraq in recent weeks.
He had sold footage to Britain's ITN television news, and the British Channel 4 and Channel 5 networks.
“Apparently, this colleague was not wearing a flak jacket nor protective headgear, and we are not sure if he had had any risk training or was properly insured,” said White. “This case raises serious worries about the status of many young journalists currently working in the region.”
The second death concerns Jeremy Little, a 27-year old Australian television soundman for the American network NBC, who died on 6 July from injuries sustained after a rocket-propelled grenade was fired at the car in which he was travelling. Little, another freelancer, was attached to the U.S. Third Infantry Division in the town of Falluja, as an embedded media staffer.
“Journalists, especially freelances, are under tremendous pressure and they face terrible risks if they don’t keep their distance,” said White. “Safety is paramount and media organisations must insure that their staff and freelancers working for them have got the message that no story is worth risking their life”.
For a full list of media victims in the war in Iraq see the IFJ website (International Federation of Journalists or click on the following link:
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Further information: + 32 2 235 22 00
The IFJ represents more than 500,000 journalists in more than 100 countries