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Iraqi "Washington Post" reporter shot dead in Baghdad; freelance reporter killed in north

(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders is appalled by the murders of Salih Saif Aldin, an Iraqi reporter employed by the "The Washington Post" bureau in Baghdad, and freelance journalist Dhi Abdul-Razak al-Dibo. Their deaths bring to 205 the number of journalists and media assistants killed in the course of their work in Iraq since the start of the United States-led invasion in March 2003.

"There is no letup in the violence on the ground and Iraqi journalists are continuing to pay dearly," the press freedom organisation said. "Eighty-eight per cent of the media workers killed in Iraq in the past four years have been Iraqi. Those working for foreign news media are in even greater danger. With Saif Aldin, 10 in this category have been killed since the start of the year."

Reporters Without Borders added: "We call on the Iraqi authorities to carry out a thorough investigation and arrest those responsible for Saif Aldin's murder. It took place in broad daylight in front of dozens of witnesses, so there is no good reason for it to go unpunished."

Saif Aldin was shot on 14 October 2007 in the south Baghdad neighbourhood of Sadiyah. His newspaper said he had gone there to interview residents about violence between Shiites and Sunnis. His body was found in the street covered with newspapers. Police who went to the scene said he was shot at close range in what appeared to be an execution-style murder. He was killed by a single shot to the forehead.

Aged 32, Saif Aldin had worked for "The Washington Post" since 2004. In the 15 October issue, the newspaper said he received threats in 2005, when he was working in his home town of Tikrit, and that as a result the newspaper had transferred him to Baghdad. In 2006, a 35,000-euro bounty was said to have been placed on his head after he reported that officials in Tikrit had looted a former palace.

Al-Dibo, a 32-year-old freelance reporter, was killed in an ambush by unidentified gunmen on 15 October near the city of Kirku, 180 km north of Baghdad. His two bodyguards were injured in the attack.

At least 54 journalists and media assistants have been killed in Iraq since the start of the year. Ten of them worked for foreign news media outlets (Radio Free Europe, "Newsweek", ABC, APTN, Reuters, "New York Times" and "The Washington Post").

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