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KURDISH JOURNALISTS DIE IN SUICIDE BOMB IN IRAQ; TWO OTHERS SENTENCED TO DEATH IN IRAN

A suicide bomb attack in Kirkuk, northern Iraq on 16 July killed at least 85 people, including an editor and a reporter, and wounded more than 180 others, report the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and London-based Kurdistan Journalists Syndicate (KJS).

The driver of a truck packed with explosives detonated the vehicle near one of the offices of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, says CPJ, which damaged several adjacent buildings, including the Kirkuk Cultural and Social Association office, which is funded by the Kurdistan Regional Government and publishes the weekly newspaper "Kirkuk al-Yawm" and the quarterly "Kirkuk".

Swedish-Iraqi dual national Mustafa Gaimayani, editor for "Kirkuk al-Yawm", and Majeed Mohammed, one of the paper's sports reporters, were killed in the blast as they were preparing the paper for publication. Both journalists were also correspondents for the Kurdish-language weekly "Hawal". According to KJS, a journalist named Tayib Abdulla Jaff was also killed. Several other journalists, including the editors in chief of both "Kirkuk al-Yawm" and "Kirkuk", were wounded in the explosion.

Meanwhile, two Kurdish journalists were sentenced to death in Iran's Kurdish northwestern region on 16 July, reports Reporters Without Borders (Reporters sans frontières, RSF) and KJS. Adnan Hassanpour, who wrote articles on the Kurdish issue for the now defunct magazine "Asou", was found guilty in a closed trial of "activities subverting national security" and "spying". The charges against Abdolvahed "Hiva" Botimar, a contributor to "Asou" and an active member of the environmental NGO Sabzchia, were not known at the time of writing.

According to RSF, Iran continues to be the Middle East's biggest prison for the press with eight journalists currently in jail.

Visit these links:
- CPJ: http://cpj.org/killed/killed07.html
- RSF: http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=23028
- KJS: http://www.kurdistanjournalists.org/
(24 July 2007)

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