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Two targeted killings of journalists in two days; 230 journalists killed during Iraq War

Iraqi journalists continue to be killed with impunity even after US combat troops withdraw from Iraq. Journalist Riad Al-Saray was killed this week.
Iraqi journalists continue to be killed with impunity even after US combat troops withdraw from Iraq. Journalist Riad Al-Saray was killed this week.


Violence against journalists continues after the formal withdrawal of United States combat troops from Iraq in August. An Iraqi journalist was shot dead this week on his way to Karbala in southern Iraq when gunmen travelling in another car fired at him, report the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI), the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and Reporters Without Borders (RSF). The next day, a television journalist was gunned down outside his home in Mosul. RSF has released a survey of media deaths during the US Army's presence in Iraq, "The Iraq War: A Heavy Death Toll for the Media".

Journalist Riad Al-Saray, 35, was killed in the early morning in western Baghdad on 7 September, according to local group Journalistic Freedoms Observatory (JFO) and IFEX members. "We are concerned that journalists are once again becoming easy prey in the renewed violence which has rocked Iraq in recent days," said IFJ.

Al-Saray was an anchorman for Al-Iraqiya television, which belongs to the Iraqi Media Network, and wrote columns for a number of local newspapers. He joined Al-Iraqiya in 2005 and hosted programmes that sought to reconcile Shiites and Sunnis. At least 14 other Iraqi Media Network journalists have been killed since 2003.

Then, on 8 September, Safaa Al-Dine Abdul Hameed, a presenter for Al-Mosuliyah TV station was killed as he left home for work.

Just weeks after the US Army's last combat brigade withdrew from Iraq in August, RSF issued a report examining the country's seven years of occupation by the coalition forces and the impact on press freedom. RSF focused on journalists who were killed during the conflict simply because they wanted to do their jobs, noting the impunity in 99 percent of the murders of journalists and media workers since the invasion in 2003.

RSF also re-examined the more than 93 cases of journalist abductions during the war; at least 42 were later executed. Iraqi journalists were also frequently suspected of collaborating with insurgent groups and arrested, either by the newly established Iraqi administration or the US Army.

RSF concludes, "Although the US intervention in Iraq put an end to Saddam Hussein's regime and paved the way for a major expansion of the Iraqi media, the human toll of the war, and the years of political and ethnic violence which followed, were nothing short of disastrous – too many people died."

The number of media contributors killed in the country since the conflict began stands at 230, more journalists killed than at any time since the Second World War. That is more than the number of journalists killed during 20 years of the Vietnam War or the civil war in Algeria.

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    Ryad Al-Saray, a presenter at Al-Iraqiya Television, was killed when unidentified gunmen opened fire on his car.

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