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Series of new attacks and acts of intimidation against journalists

(RSF/IFEX) - 21 October 2011 - Reporters Without Borders continues to be concerned about the dangers for journalists in Iraq, where there have been a series of attacks and acts of intimidation against media personnel this month.

In one of the latest cases, unidentified gunmen fired on Al-Iraqiya TV reporter Abd Al-Hasan Al-Rukaabi as he was driving between the southern city of Nasriyah and the nearby town of Al-Refai on 19 October. He was injured in the neck after abandoning his car to escape the gunfire, but after being treated in hospital doctors said he was in no danger.

Aged 50 and the father of eight children, Rukaabi has worked for Al-Iraqiya since 2003. He said he did not know the motive for the murder attempt, which the police are investigating. Reporters Without Borders urges the authorities to ensure that those responsible are identified.

In another incident, soldiers raided the home of Al-Sharq reporter Khalil Al-Alwani in Fallujah (in the western province of Anbar) on 17 October. In a statement, Alwani said the raid was carried out illegally, without a court order, with the probable aim of arresting him in connection with articles he'd published about everyday problems in Anbar, where the rate of violent crime and murder has become alarming. The authorities have denied having anything to do with the raid.

Journalists and activists staged a peaceful demonstration in Fallujah the next day to demand an investigation into the circumstances of the illegal raid. Reporters Without Borders urges the authorities to begin the investigation at once in order to shed light on what happened and to guarantee Alwani's safety.

In yet another incident, TV executive Hoshyar Abdallah was arrested on a court order in the Kurdish city of Sulaymaniyah, in northern Iraq, on 1 October, on a charge of defaming former Kurdish water resources minister Abdul Latif Muhammad Jamal, whom he had accused of corruption. He was released two days later on bail of 145,000 dinars (90 euros). Abdallah heads KNN, a Sulaymaniyah-based TV station affiliated with the Kurdish opposition movement Change.

Reporters Without Borders urges the Iraqi authorities to put a stop to the abuses against media personnel and to guarantee their safety under the law for the protection of journalists adopted last August. Iraq continues to be a dangerous country for journalists.

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