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Journalist seriously injured in targeted bomb attack, several others assaulted

(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders deplores a targeted attack on Alaa Mohsen, the host of the programme "Liqa Sakhen" on state-run Al-Iraqiya television, who was badly injured by a bomb placed underneath his car as he was about to leave his home in the Baghdad suburb of Saydiya on the morning of 27 September 2010 to go to work. Rushed to the Yarmouk district hospital, he was reported to be in critical condition on 28 September.

It was the third targeted attack on a TV presenter since the United States announced the withdrawal of its last combat troops on 31 August. Safaa Al-Dine Abdul Hameed of Al-Mosuliyah was shot dead in Mosul, in the northern province of Ninawa, on 8 September, while Riad Al-Saray, another Al-Iraqiya presenter, was gunned down in Baghdad on 7 September.

The current climate of terror and impunity has also seen an increase in violence against journalists by members of the Iraqi security forces.

In one of the latest cases, reporter and cameraman Bashar Al-Badrani of satellite TV station Al-Sharqiya was the victim of an extremely violent attack by members of the Iraqi army while on his way to a news conference in Mosul on 23 September. After opening fire on his car, the soldiers forced him and his driver to get out and began to beat and insult them. They hit Al-Badrani even more when he told them he was a journalist.

Several journalists were beaten or roughed up by bodyguards assigned to Khalaf Abdel Samad, the head of the Iraqi Martyrs Foundation, while trying to cover a seminar he gave on 22 September in the southern city of Al-Nasiriya.

The bodyguards used unexpected violence when Samad told them to remove the journalists. An Al-Fiha cameraman was hit as he was filming and one of the bodyguards tried to smash his equipment. Three TV reporters - Jassem Khalaf of Al-Ahd, Mohammed Saadoun of Al-Ahwar and Marwa Al-Shammary of Al-Fiha - were also hit while Hazem Habib of the dayly "Al-Sabah" was dragged from the room.

Several journalists were beaten by police at a checkpoint in the Baghdad district of Yarmouk on the night of 21 September as they were returning from covering a discussion seminar involving representatives of the various political coalitions in Baghdad.

After stopping their car and telling them to get out, the police forced them to lie face down on the ground and began hitting and insulting them. Both the daily "Sawt Baghdad" news director Karim Al-Shammary and a Kurdistan TV cameraman sustained facial injuries. The police continued to hit them despite being shown press cards.

Such a climate of impunity is undermining the possibilities of developing a free and independent press in Iraq. Those responsible for this violence must be identified and brought to trial. Reporters Without Borders also reiterates its desire for the adoption of a proposed law for the protection of journalists which has languished in parliament since it was submitted in September 2009.

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