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Two journalists killed in airstrike in Yemen

This statement was originally published on ifj.org on 27 May 2015.

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has today backed its affiliate the Yemen Journalists' Syndicate (YJS) in urging the United Nations (UN) to investigate the killings of Yemeni journalists Abdullah Kabil and Yousef Alaizry, who died last Thursday in the southwestern province of Dhamar after being kidnapped by Houthis and held in a building which was bombed the following day by the Saudi-led coalition's jet fighters.

According to media reports, Yemeni Shabab TV correspondent Abdullah Kabil and Shuhail TV correspondent Yousef Alaizry were kidnapped by the Houthis rebels last Wednesday 20 May while coming back from covering a tribal leaders' meeting against Houthis. Both journalists were arrested and held in a seismic monitoring center in Mount Oran, which had previously been attacked during the current conflict. The two journalists were among the dead during the bombing of the centre, just one day after their kidnapping, by the Arab coalition led by Saudi Arabia against the rebels. Some media reported that they had been used as a human shield during the assault. Their bodies have been recently discovered.

"The YJS puts all the responsibility on Houthi militiamen who kept these journalists in a place which had been bombed many times before," said the union on a statement, highlighting that "The YJS had previously warned Houthis against such acts."

The IFJ President Jim Boumelha fully backed the Yemeni colleagues.

"We are dismayed by this shameful disregard to the life of these Yemeni colleagues who were deliberately put at risk, leading to their killing," said Boumelha. " We strongly condemn the use of journalists as political pawns and bargaining chips in any war or conflict. Failure to take necessary precautions for the protection of journalists as civilians can constitute war crimes under international law. We consider that holding civilians in known military targets during conflicts is a such a case and we urge the United Nations and its envoy to Yemen to investigate this incident and hold those responsible accountable."

Kabil and Alaizry's killings bring to eight the number of journalists and media staff killed in Yemen since the start of the year, according to IFJ statistics.

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