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THREE STAFF OF WESTERN NEWS MEDIA KILLED IN A WEEK

A "New York Times" journalist and two Reuters staff were killed in Baghdad last week, report the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Reporters Without Borders (Reporters sans frontières, RSF) and news reports.

Khalid W. Hassan, an Iraqi reporter and interpreter for the "The New York Times", was shot and killed in Baghdad while driving to work, reports CPJ. He had called the bureau to say his normal route was blocked by a security checkpoint so he was taking an alternate route.

According to the "Times", half an hour later, Hassan called his mother telling her, "I've been shot." His family later called the office to report that he had been killed.

"There is no safe way to report on the streets of Baghdad. The fact that Khalid Hassan was shot on his way to work is a reminder that even the simplest, most routine functions of daily life can be deadly in an environment of rampant violence," says CPJ.

Hassan, who worked for the paper in Baghdad for four years, "was part of a large, sometimes unsung community of Iraqi news-gatherers, translators, and support staff, who take enormous risks every day to help us comprehend their country's struggle and torment," "Times" executive editor Bill Keller said. "Without them, Americans' understanding of what is happening on the ground in Iraq would be much, much poorer."

On 9 July, an Iraqi photographer and driver working for the Reuters news agency were killed during a battle in eastern Baghdad between U.S. forces and Shiite militiamen, reports RSF. Photographer Namir Noor-Eldeen and his driver, Saeed Chmagh, were killed by gunfire of unclear origin. Witnesses said a rocket was fired from a U.S. helicopter, but other sources told Reuters they could have been killed by a mortar shell fired by Iraqi militia members.

The U.S. military said nine gunmen were killed in the battle, along with the two Reuters staffers, while Iraqi police and medical officials put the toll at 19, including other civilians.

According to CPJ, Hassan was the second "Times" employee killed in the Iraq conflict, and RSF reports that the total number of Reuters employees killed is now six. At least 110 journalists and 40 media support staff, most of them Iraqis, have been killed since the 2003 invasion, CPJ reports.

Visit these links:
- CPJ: http://tinyurl.com/2tfu4a
- RSF: http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=22911
- "The New York Times": http://tinyurl.com/yqptct
- Reuters: http://tinyurl.com/245o7g
- Local Iraqi journalists' online journal: http://www.journal-iraq.com
(17 July 2007)

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