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Filipino journalists injured in crossfire between government and rebels

On 3 February 2014, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) expressed its ongoing concern for media workers' safety in the Philippines after a television reporter and cameraman were injured by an improvised explosive device while attempting to cover fighting between government and rebel forces in Mindanao.

TV5/ABC5 reporter Jeff Carapas and cameraman Adrian Bulatao were in a marked press vehicle in a convoy of military and civilian vehicles when it was attacked on the morning of 1 February 2014 in Maguindanao province. After initial treatment at battalion headquarters they were both airlifted to hospital in Cotabato City for their shrapnel wounds and were understood to be in a stable condition as of 3 February.

The military said the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) group claimed responsibility for the explosion. The incident wounded 12 people, including 4 other civilians.

The IFJ and its affiliate National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) strongly criticised the targeting of civilians in the skirmishes between government and pro-independence forces.

"Media workers should not become the unwitting targets in the crossfire between the government and warring factions," the IFJ said. "They are there to record events as independent witnesses.

"The Government of the Philippines has an obligation to ensure the safety of both civilians and journalists and prosecute those responsible. We call on the state to ensure swift justice is undertaken."

The Philippines continues to be a dangerous country for journalists. In December 2013, the NUJP held a nationwide Black Friday campaign to raise awareness of killed media workers. In a period of two weeks spanning November and December, three Filipino journalists were killed in their duty. The NUJP says that 21 work-related journalist killings have occurred under the presidency of Benigno Aquino III, the worst incidence rate under any other administration since 1986.

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