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Baghdad media mourn two more deaths

(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders has voiced deep sadness at the murder of a young cameraman employed by Associated Press Television News (APTN) in Baghdad on 1 June 2007, a day after the father of a woman journalist employed by satellite TV station Al-Arabiya was found riddled with bullets in the Baghdad morgue.

"We convey our condolences to the families of the victims and share their grief," the press freedom organisation said. "Without a strong commitment by the country's politicians, the number of murders of journalists will continue to rise. And the more that time goes by with nothing being done, the harder it will become to identify those responsible for these murders and bring them to trial. The entire journalistic profession is waiting for the authorities to act."

Al-Arabiya Baghdad bureau chief, Jawad Al-Hatab said the Iraqi media have undergone radical changes and achieved an unprecedented level of freedom of expression since Saddam Hussein's removal in 2003 but this has been accompanied by a terrible loss of life. "All the armed groups now targeting journalists, academics and artists want to deprive Iraq of its brain power," he said, adding that many news organisations have moved from Baghdad to the safer Kurdish north or to neighbouring countries.

APTN cameraman Saif Fakhri, 26, was gunned down on 1 June as he was heading towards a mosque near his home in Baghdad. He is the fifth employee of the US video news agency to be murdered in Iraq.

Khalil Youssef Ahmad, 55, the father of Al-Arabiya business journalist Doha Al-Haddad, was kidnapped on 31 May in Baghdad and killed the same day by his abductors, who had contacted the family and demanded a ransom. Reporters Without Borders learned that Haddad had received threatening messages on her mobile phone telling her to stop working for the news media altogether.

At least 182 journalists and media assistants have been killed in Iraq since the start of the US-led invasion in March 2003. There has been no news of another 14 media employees since they were kidnapped in Iraq.

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