By: E&P Staff
Gunmen kidnapped a female American journalist and killed her Iraqi translator Saturday in western Baghdad, an Interior Ministry official said, according to several wire services.
Maj. Falah Mohamadawi said the translator told police before he died that the abduction took place when he and the journalist were heading to meet Adnan al-Dulaimi, head of the Sunni Arab Iraqi Accordance Front, in the Adel section of the city.
The woman’s name was not immediately released. The Telegraph in London described her as a freelancer in her mid-twenties. “An American journalist is missing. We are investigating,? said U.S. embassy spokeswoman Elizabeth Colton, who declined to name her, according to Agence France Presse.
“The victim has worked in Iraq since the summer of 2003 as a freelance correspondent,” the Telegraph reported. “Like many journalists, she chose not to use an armoured car or to have armed bodyguards, believing that it was safer to dress in Iraqi clothes and travel in an ordinary car.”
The neighborhood is dominated by Sunni Arabs and considered one of toughest in Baghdad. Reuters reports: “Immediately after the incident, American and Iraqi troops sealed off the area, witnesses said.”
UPI identified the dead translator as Alin Ghazi Jack, an Iraqi Christian.
The woman, according to some reports, was seized 100 yards from where the British aid worker Margaret Hassan was ambushed in October 2004. She was later shot dead after a reported refusal to pay a ransom.
According to Samir Najim, a guard at al-Dulaimi’s office, three armed men in a red Opel four-sedan intercepted the journalist’s car and shot the translator before taking her in their car and driving away. The kidnapping took place about 100 yards from al-Dulaimi’s office.
UPI, however, adds this somewhat conflicting detail: “They said the driver of the bus in which the journalist and translator were riding managed to escape the incident when he fled and sought the help of a police patrol that happened to be in the same area at the time.”
The Paris-based media watchdog group, Reporters Without Borders said it was extremely worried for the fate of the missing reporter, according to UPI.
“Journalists working in Iraq have once again been caught in a deadly ambush,” the press freedom organization said.
“Alin Ghazi Jack’s death confirms that the Iraqi press continues to be the chief victim of the infernal climate for the media in this country.”
Reporters Without Borders added: “There is still a life that can be saved today. We appeal to all those who, like us, reject injustice to do everything possible to ensure that the kidnapped journalist is freed as soon as possible. Experience has shown that an energetic campaign is decisive in the first days of an abduction.”
Insurgents have kidnapped more than 250 foreigners in the past two years, aiming to force U.S.-led troops to leave Iraq or prevent Arab nations from strengthening their ties with the Baghdad government.
Some of the hostages were killed, while others were released after ransoms were paid or freed after Muslim clerics called the armed groups to release them.
On Dec. 8, the Islamic Army in Iraq claimed to have killed U.S. electrician Ronald Schulz. Other groups are holding a French engineer and four Christian humanitarian workers _ two Canadians, a Briton and an American.
No news has been received about the fate of those men since a group claiming responsibility for their capture imposed a Dec. 10 deadline for their killings. The previously unknown Swords of Righteousness Brigade had threatened to kill the group if the United States and Britain did not release all detainees in Iraq.
Briton Norman Kember, 74, Canadians James Loney, 41, and Harmeet Singh Sooden, 32, and American Tom Fox, 54, were abducted in Baghdad on Nov. 26. All four were working in Iraq with Christian Peacemaker Teams, a Canadian-based organization that has investigated allegations of abuse against Iraqi prisoners.
Kidnappers last week released two men, a Cypriot businessman and a Lebanese engineer.
A total of 76 journalists and media staff have been killed in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion in March 2003, the press freedom group Reporters Without Borders said Wednesday. That was more than the 63 reporters killed in the 1955-1977 conflict in Vietnam, the group said, citing figures from U.S.-based press advocacy group Freedom Forum.