Reporters Group Calls for New Police Unit to Probe Killing of Journos in Iraq

By: Reporters Without Borders has called for the creation of a special task force and a witness protection program in a bid to crack down on violence against the media in Iraq, with at least five journalists killed in the past week.

The Paris-based advocacy group urged Iraqi authorities to establish a special police unit to investigate the killings of journalists and to organize awareness programs among Iraqi security forces and the public. It also recommended a witness protection program be set up with the help of neighboring countries to aid the investigation.

"The Iraqi authorities must fulfill their duty to protect journalists," the group said in a statement issued Thursday.

Reporters Without Borders said four Iraqi journalists had been killed by armed groups since May 26. That count did not include an Associated Press Television News cameraman, who was shot to death Thursday during clashes in a Sunni neighborhood in Baghdad.

According to the group, police said the body of Aidan Abdullah al-Jamiji, who was in charge of Kirkuk television's Turkomen-language section and a well-known local musician, was found on May 26 in the trunk of his car, which been torched and dumped near a cemetery in the northern city of Kirkuk.

Two days later, Mahmoud Hassib al-Kassab, the editor of the weekly Al-Hawadith newspaper and a member of a local Turkoman group, was shot to death outside his home in the northern part of Kirkuk.

Abdul-Rahman al-Issawi, a 34-year-old journalism professor at Baghdad university and a contributor to several newspapers, was killed Tuesday along with seven family members, when gunmen stormed into his home west of Fallujah and opened fire.

Nizar al-Radhi, 38, an employee of the independent news agency Voices of Iraq and correspondent since last year for Radio Free Iraq, was shot to death and several of his colleagues were wounded Wednesday in a drive-by shooting as they were leaving a news conference outside the city hall of Amarah, southeast of Baghdad.

Saif M. Fakhry, a 26-year-old Associated Press Television News cameraman, was shot to death Thursday as he was walking to a mosque during clashes in the Sunni neighborhood of Amariyah in Baghdad, although his death was not included in the Reporters Without Borders statement.

Excluding his death, Reporters Without Borders has said 181 journalists and media assistants have been killed since the war started in March 2003.


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