IRAQIS BEAR BRUNT OF ATTACKS AGAINST MEDIA
On 1 November, camera operator Dhia Najim was shot in the head while covering clashes between Iraqi insurgents and US forces in Ramadi, reported the Committee to Protect Journalists, Reporters Without Borders (Reporters sans frontières, RSF) and the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ).
The US military claims Najim died in a gun battle. However, Reuters says video footage of the incident showed no apparent fighting and no sounds of gunfire in the vicinity before Najim was killed by a single bullet. Najim's colleagues believe a US sniper killed the camera operator. Najim was a freelancer for several media outlets, including Reuters and the Associated Press.
In an unrelated incident on 30 October 2004, a car packed with explosives detonated outside the Baghdad offices of Al-Arabiya. Five station employees were among the seven killed, while 14 staff were injured. The offices were also used by two Saudi-owned news stations ? Al Akhbariya and Middle East Broadcasting.
A group calling itself the "Jihad Martyrs Brigades" claimed responsibility for the attack and threatened further violence against Al-Arabiya and other media outlets in Iraq. Al-Arabiya says its coverage of the conflict has led to threats from individuals who demand that the broadcaster support the "jihad" against the US occupying forces and interim Iraqi authorities.
On 28 October, Liqaa Abdul Razzuk, a news anchor for Al-Sharqiya TV, was shot and killed when gunmen opened fire on a taxi she was traveling in. At least one of her two fellow passengers, a translator, was also killed. The motive for her murder is unclear. Razzuk used to work for Al-Iraqiya TV, a local broadcaster backed by US-led coalition forces. Her husband, killed two months ago, worked as a translator for coalition forces. She had recently given birth to a daughter and had a six year-old son.
Attacks by insurgents are the leading cause of death among journalists and media workers in Iraq, and Iraqis are bearing an ever greater burden, says CPJ. More than 80 per cent of the journalists and media workers killed in 2004 are Iraqis.
Read CPJ's recent report "Facts on Iraq": http://www.cpj.org/Briefings/2003/gulf03/iraq_stats.html
- IFJ: http://www.ifj.org/default.asp?Index=2769&Language=EN
- RSF: http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=11741
- Reuters Disputes US Account of Najim's Death: http://media.guardian.co.uk/site/story/0,14173,1341711,00.html
- International News Safety Institute: http://www.newssafety.com/