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Public TV cameraman injured seriously in Basra bombing

(RSF/IFEX) - Odai Sabri, a cameraman employed by public television station Al-Irakiya, was seriously injured on 3 June 2008 in the bombing of a musical instruments shop in the old part of Basra, 550 km south of Baghdad. He was rushed unconscious, with multiple injuries to the head and body, to a hospital where he underwent an operation to remove some of the bomb fragments.

"Journalists who go out to report on the Iraqi public's everyday problems run a two-fold risk," Reporters Without Borders said. "Like any civilian, they risk being injured or killed in an exchange of shots or a bombing. But they also risk being identified as journalists and being deliberately targeted by the armed groups that have murdered dozens of media personnel. Cameramen and photographers with hard-to-conceal equipment are even more vulnerable."

Sabri, 28, was doing a report on the threats to the entertainment industry from radical Islamist groups when he was injured by the bombing of the musical instruments store. Many music conservatories, concert halls and theatres all over Iraq have had to close because of pressure from groups preaching a radical version of Islam. This was not the first time that musical instrument vendors have been bombed in Basra.

Sabri recovered consciousness about two hours after being taken to Basra's Al-Jomhouriya hospital, where doctors found many bomb fragments still lodged in his body. After managing to remove two medium-sized fragments from his head and back, they allowed him to be taken home on 4 June pending another operation to remove the remaining fragments.

Abbas Al-Fayyad, Al-Irakiya's Basra bureau chief, said Sabri would not be able to return to work for at least six months. He added that Sabri was slightly hurt a month ago during an attack on the Iraqi army unit he was accompanying.

Sabri is the seventh Iraqi journalist to be seriously injured in a bombing since the start of the year. One of the victims, a cameraman caught in a bomb blast in Baghdad in April, lost a leg.

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