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New journalists' union leader targeted in Baghdad bomb attack, injured with several others in blast

(IFJ/IFEX) - The following is a 21 September 2001 IFJ media release:

IFJ Demands Action as Killers Target New Iraqi Union President

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today vigorously condemned a targeted bomb attack on the President of the Iraqi Union of Journalists (IUJ) in Baghdad only seven months after his predecessor was shot dead by extremists. The IFJ is demanding increased security for the union and personal protection for its leaders.

The attack on Moaid Al-Lami took place yesterday when an explosion outside the union headquarters ripped into the building. He was detained in hospital with cuts and bruises amidst concern over his heart and lungs. Several others were hurt in the blast.

Al-Lami, the former union General Secretary, was elected in July to replace Shahib Al-Timimi, the veteran union President who was shot and killed in a shocking incident near the union offices in February of this year. The two men have been warned that their lives are threatened because of their criticism of attacks on media by political extremists.

"This is yet more horrifying evidence that the people threatening journalists' leaders are deadly serious," said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. "Action must be taken now to ensure they have protection."

The IFJ is supporting the IUJ and the Iraqi Media Safety Group, established by the IFJ and the International News Safety Institute, in their demands for the Iraqi government to adopt a protection of journalists' law demanded by the journalists' union six months ago.

"There must be no more delay or prevarication - the journalists' union and its members must be given support and assistance now, including personal protection," said White.

The attack took place as a weekly meeting of union leaders was ending and comes within a week of the killing of four journalists and media staff working for the Iraqi satellite TV channel Al Sharqiya in Mosul. According to the union, 286 journalists have been killed, often in targeted murders, since the invasion of Iraq in April 2003.

The IFJ is demanding that the authorities deliver on a promise to investigate all unsolved killings, including the assassination of Shahib Al-Timimi, and the federation has called on United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and the international community to do more to protect journalists and media in Iraq.

The IFJ General Secretary will reiterate this demand at a special meeting at UN headquarters in New York this week to discuss further steps to strengthen the United Nations Security Council resolution 1738, which was adopted in 2006, a measure championed by the IFJ and its member unions, that protects journalists in conflict zones.

The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 120 countries worldwide.

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