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Media outlet repeatedly attacked; suicide bomb kills four

The offices of the Arab satellite channel Al-Arabiya in Baghdad were destroyed by a suicide bomb this week.
The offices of the Arab satellite channel Al-Arabiya in Baghdad were destroyed by a suicide bomb this week.

JFO

A suicide bomber blew up a vehicle in front of the Arab satellite channel Al-Arabiya in Baghdad on 26 July, report the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), the Arab Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI), Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). The blast killed four of the news channel's support staff and injured several others, leaving a massive crater.

Al-Arabiya had temporarily closed its office on 25 June after officials warned the media outlet that insurgents were planning to carry out a bombing. "The bureau is completely ruined, there is no room left that is not destroyed," said Tareq Maher, an Al-Arabiya journalist who was inside the building during the blast, according to CPJ. Al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia took credit for the attack.

"All factions in Iraq have to understand that media is not a part in their differences or in their wars," said ANHRI. "Fighting freedom of expression is not in the favour of any of the parties, as it is a guaranteed right for all."

The popular Saudi-owned and Dubai-based regional satellite television channel has been targeted many times since it opened its office in 2003. In 2008 the bureau chief discovered a bomb attached to his car and narrowly escaped. In 2006 a car bomb targeting the bureau killed seven. In 2006, Atwar Bahjat, a correspondent and CPJ International Press Freedom awardee was murdered, along with two colleagues, near the city of Samarra - while covering the bombing of a Shiite shrine. Another journalist was hurt in an attempted abduction the same year.

Local organisation Journalistic Freedoms Organisation (JFO) reports that in October 2004, a suicide bomber also targeted the channel's office, killing four employees, and in March 2004 in Baghdad, correspondent Ali al-Khatib and cameraman Ali Abdul-Aziz were killed by American troops' fire.

"Previous killings of journalists have not been investigated or have been dealt with casually, creating an intolerable regime of impunity," said IFJ. "The government must change its approach and ensure that the killers of journalists and media staff will be brought to justice."

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