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Two Baghdad TV journalists kidnapped, murdered, in separate incidents; body of "Nineveh" reporter found in Mosul

(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders has condemned the murders of two Baghdad TV journalists who were kidnapped in separate incidents in the past month. Baghdad TV, which is owned by the (Sunni) Iraqi Islamic Party, was the target of an armed attack just three months ago that killed two of its employees.

"We are again deeply shocked by the news of these repeated attacks on the news media," the press freedom organisation said. "Relatively little time elapsed between the attack on Baghdad TV's headquarters and the kidnapping and murder of two of its journalists. We call on the Iraqi authorities to protect the most exposed journalists to avoid further tragedies."

Mohammed Hilal Karji, Baghdad TV's correspondent in the Al-Yusufia region south of Baghdad, was kidnapped outside his home as he was about to go to work on 8 June 2007. His body was found in the morgue the next day. Another of the station's journalists, Sarmad Hamdi Al-Hassani, 43, was kidnapped at his home in the Baghdad neighbourhood of Al-Jami'a on 27 June. His body was also found in the morgue the next day.

In the 5 April attack on the station's headquarters, a truck laden with explosives was driven at the building while gunmen stormed inside and opened fire on employees, killing deputy director Thaer Ahmed Jabr and one of his assistants, Hussein Nizar. Nine other people were injured (see IFEX alert of 9 April 2007).

Baghdad TV is run by Iraqi Vice-President Tareq al-Hashimi. As a result of the attack that destroyed its Baghdad premises, the station recently moved its headquarters to Sulaymaniyah, in Iraq's northern Kurdish region, which is safer for journalists.

In a separate incident, the bullet-riddled body of journalist Luay Suleiman was found on 28 June in Mosul, 400 km north of Baghdad. Suleiman worked for "Nineveh", a local newspaper published by the Christian group Bait Nahrain.

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