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One journalist assaulted by soldiers, another beaten by security guard

(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders has condemned a growing number of physical attacks on Iraqi journalists while trying to do their job. It has recorded more than 20 such cases since the start of 2008.

Two journalists were recently assaulted in Basra, southern Iraq, one by soldiers and the other by a minister's security guard.

"Assaults are constantly escalating in Iraq. Journalists are working in a climate of insecurity that worsens all the time," the worldwide press freedom organisation said. "This brutality perpetrated by soldiers or over-zealous body guards, comes on top of the risks of murder and kidnapping journalists have had to face for the past five years."

Iraqi soldiers seized and beat Issam al-Sudani, a photographer working for Agence France-Presse, on 10 May 2008 after he took photographs of bomb damage in the al-Hakimiya district of Basra. He told them he had received advance permission from the local police chief. He said that one officer tried to strangle him, accusing him of "supporting the terrorists".

The following day, a journalist working for Radio Sawa, Safa al-Issa, was beaten up by a minister's guard when he tried to cover the closing ceremony of a poetry festival in Basra. "They wouldn't let me in, saying there was no room. I showed them my press card but in vain. They pushed me into another room and brutally beat me. They also threatened to put a plastic bag over my head", the journalist said.

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