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Journalist gunned down in Kirkuk after receiving threats over articles

(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders condemns the murder of reporter Soran Mama Hama of the fortnightly magazine "Leven", who was gunned down on 21 July 2008 outside his home in Kirkuk, in the northern region of Kurdistan. His colleagues said he had received threats about articles he had written on sensitive subjects.

"We call on the Kurdistan authorities to carry out a thorough investigation into the circumstances of Hama's murder," Reporters Without Borders said. "He wrote hard-hitting articles about local politicians and security officials and had received threats from people telling him to stop his investigative reporting. The authorities should therefore give priority to the theory that he was killed because of his work."

Hama was gunned down outside his home in the Kirkuk suburb of Rasheed Awa on the evening of 21 July by four men who left in a BMW car. He died on the spot.

One of his colleagues at "Leven", Hemin Hussein, told Reporters Without Borders that the aim of his murder was "to gag the newspaper, which has always been very critical of the government."

"Leven" issued a statement calling on the Kurdistan president's office, the regional government and the Kurdish national assembly "to do their duty" to ensure that a proper investigation is carried out into Hama's murder.

Aged 23, Hama had worked for "Leven" for more than three years. An independent Kurdish-language fortnightly that was created in 2001, "Leven" often covers government corruption. Hama had written an article in the latest issue that was about the involvement of Kurdish officials in prostitution rings.

Hama's murder brings the number of journalists and media assistants killed in Iraq since March 2003 to 217. Thirteen of them were killed in Kirkuk.

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