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An attack on a radio station in Baghdad that left one employee dead and a Russian reporter killed in a roadside bomb reveal how badly the government is protecting journalists, say Reporters Without Borders (Reporters sans frontières, RSF) and the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ).

On World Press Freedom Day (3 May), dozens of heavily armed gunmen killed security guard Adel al-Badri and wounded two others at Radio Dijla, an independent radio station in Baghdad, says the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). The assailants bombed the first floor of the building, destroying the station's broadcast equipment and effectively knocking the station off the air.

Radio Dijla's acting director-general told CPJ that although he called for help, employees were able to hold off the masked gunmen for more than 30 minutes before they were rescued by Iraqi security forces, who arrived after the gunmen had already fled. "The attack took place in central Baghdad without any intervention from police units patrolling nearby," says RSF. The Iraqi authorities must shoulder some of the blame."

RSF also reports that three days later, on 6 May, a Russian reporter embedded with a US military unit was killed just north of Baghdad. Freelance photographer Dmitry Chebotayev died in a roadside bomb, which also killed six members of a US military unit. Chebotayev, the first Russian journalist to be killed in Iraq, was on assignment for the Russian edition of "Newsweek" magazine.

In response to the violence, IFJ's affiliates in Iraq, including the Kurdish Journalists' Syndicate and the Iraqi Journalists Syndicate - are organising an urgent meeting next week to help develop a security plan for Iraqi journalists. According to IFJ, 199 journalists and media workers have been killed in Iraq since the start of the war in March 2003 - 26 journalists this year alone. The victims have been overwhelmingly Iraqi.

The Arab Archives Institute (AAI) in Jordan has paid tribute to the Arab journalists killed in Iraq and other Arab countries in its latest report, which highlights their achievements. At least one Arab journalist was killed every month in an Arab country in the past six years, most noticeably in Iraq - including another employee at Radio Dijla in 2006. For a copy of AAI's report, "In Memory of Martyr Arab Journalists and Writers", email: aainstitute[@]gmail[.]com.

Visit these links:
- RSF:
- IFJ on Radio Dijla:
- CPJ on Radio Dijla:
- CPJ on Chebotayev:
- Chebotayev's work on photographer directory Lightstalkers:
(8 May 2007)

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