Reuters & Agence France-Presse – 2005-08-29 00:19:26
More Journalists Killed in Iraq than Vietnam
PARIS (August 28. 2005) — More journalists have been killed in Iraq since the war began in March 2003 than during the 20 years of conflict in Vietnam, media rights group Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said on Sunday.
Since US forces and its allies launched their campaign in Iraq on March 20, 2003, 66 journalists and their assistants have been killed, RSF said.
The latest casualty was a Reuters Television soundman who was shot dead in Baghdad on Sunday while a cameraman with him was wounded and then detained by U.S. soldiers.
The death toll in Iraq compares with a total of 63 journalists in Vietnam, but which was over a period of 20 years from 1955 to 1975, the Paris-based organisation that campaigns to protect journalists said on its Web site.
During the fighting in the former Yugoslavia between 1991 and 1995, 49 journalists were killed doing their job, while 57 journalists and 20 media assistants were killed during a civil war in Algeria from 1993 to 1996.
RSF listed Iraq as the world’s most dangerous place for journalists. In addition to those killed, 22 have been kidnapped. All but one was released. Italian journalist Enzo Baldoni was executed by his captors.
The media was targeted from the first days of the fighting, when cameraman Paul Moran, of the Australian TV network ABC, was killed by a car bomb on March 22, 2003, it added.
Two other journalists have been missing since March 2003 and August 2004.
US Sniper Kills Reuters Soundman in Iraq
(August 28, 2005) — US forces in Baghdad shot dead a Reuters television soundman and wounded a cameraman, Iraqi police said. “American soldiers opened fire on the team, killing the soundman and wounding the cameraman before detaining him,” the police said.
The crew had arrived at the scene of an earlier rebel attack on an Iraqi police convoy in al-Adel district, west of Baghdad, which killed two and wounded one, police said. US ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad said the incident was unfortunate but stopped short of apologising.
“This is unfortunate… but sometimes mistakes are made. We don’t target civilians,” he said when questioned by reporters covering the finalisation of Iraq’s first post-Saddam Hussein constitution. “Military operations unfortunately are not a perfect science… Sometimes mistakes happen, and when they are made we investigate,” he added.
Reuters said 35-year-old Waleed Khaled was shot in the face and took at least four bullets to the chest, while cameraman Haidar Kadhem was wounded in the back.
“I heard shooting, looked up and saw an American sniper on the roof of the shopping centre,” Kadhem told colleagues who arrived at the scene before he was detained by US troops, it said. Two Iraqi colleagues who arrived on the scene minutes after the shooting were also briefly detained, then released, Reuters said. They said that Khaled was still alive when they reached him, and that US troops refused to give him water despite the blazing sun.
“They (US soldiers) treated us like dogs. They made us… including Khaled who was wounded and asking for water, stay in the sun on the road,” Reuters quoted a television crew member Mohammed Idriss as saying.
A Reuters correspondent who arrived at the scene about an hour after the shooting, said Khaled’s body was still in the driver’s seat, the face covered by a cloth. “Entry and exit wounds could be seen on the face indicating shots from the victim’s right. There were several bullet holes in the windscreen and at least four wounds in the chest,” Reuters quoted its correspondent as saying. “His US military and Reuters press cards, clipped to his shirt, were caked in blood. In one, there were two bullet holes,” it said.
To the right of the scene, a US soldier, apparently a sniper, was posted on the roof of a shopping centre, it added.
After a brief inspection of the car in which Reuters team travelled, US troops allowed Reuters staff and the dead man’s family to have it towed away. They handed them a military body bag to remove the corpse, Reuters said. “As Waleed’s tearful relatives inspected the body at the scene, a US soldier said: ‘Don’t bother. It’s not worth it’. A few other soldiers joked among themselves just a few meters (feet) from the body”, it added.
The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said early August that at least 52 journalists have been killed in Iraq since the US-led invasion to topple Saddam began in March 2003. Another 21 media support staff such as drivers, translators, and security guards have also been killed in the line of duty. Insurgent actions were responsible for the bulk of the deaths, it added.
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