Journalists Ask for Protection in Iraq After 6 Killed in Week

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The Paris-based advocacy group Reporters Without Borders on Thursday urged Iraqi authorities to step up efforts to protect journalists here after, it said, six journalists and media workers were killed in less than a week.

The group issued a statement calling on the Iraqi government to bring the killers to justice, and noted that the recent string of slayings came less than a month after the U.N. Security Council adopted a resolution on the protection of journalists.

“Although many others fall victim to the daily violence ravaging Iraq, journalists are for the most part deliberately targeted because of what they do,” Reporters Without Borders said in their statement. “Those responsible must be found and punished, or else these killings will continue.”

The U.N. Security Council on Dec. 23 condemned attacks on journalists during armed conflicts and urged combatants to stop singling out members of the media.

The resolution, adopted unanimously, marked the first time that the United Nations’ most powerful body dealt specifically with journalists covering wars.

Four employees of the government-run daily newspaper Al-Sabah were “killed in an especially horrifying manner” in early January, Reporters Without Borders said.

Two were kidnapped from the newspaper’s offices in Baghdad on Jan. 12, the group said, and found with their throats cut the next day. Yassin Aid Assef, one of the newspaper’s correspondents, was killed shortly thereafter by a bomb while covering a story in Baghdad, the group said.

The body of a security guard was found on Al-Sabah’s roof on Jan. 16, apparently shot from a distance while on patrol, the group said.

“It seems the government is unable to provide the proper protection, so the journalists will face the dangers,” Al-Sabah’s former editor, Mohammed Abdul Jaabar al-Shabout, told The Associated Press.

In another case, gunmen opened fire on freelance journalist Khoudr Younes al-Obaidi on Jan. 12, killing him instantly, Reporters Without Borders said.

Falah Khalaf Al Diyali, a journalist with the daily newspaper al-Saha also was shot to death Jan. 15 in the city of Ramadi, the group said.

Reporters Without Borders said that six journalists and media assistants are being held hostage in Iraq, and that 146 journalists and media assistants have been killed since the U.S.-led invasion of March 2003.

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