Reporters Without Borders today called on both the US army and the Iraqi police to investigate the deaths of a photographer and a driver employed by Reuters in Baghdad because of the contradictory accounts about the circumstances. If the responsibilities are not clearly established, suspicions will persist about the US army’s involvement.
Reporters Without Borders today called on both the US army and the Iraqi police to investigate the deaths of a photographer and a driver employed by Reuters yesterday in Baghdad because of the contradictory accounts about the circumstances. Their deaths bring to six the number of Reuters employees killed since the start of the US-led invasion in March 2003.
“We are deeply saddened by the deaths of these two Reuters employees and we offer our most sincere condolences to their families and colleagues,” the press freedom organisation said. “An investigation must be quickly carried out by both the US army and the Iraqi police, who have a police post at Al-Rashad that is near where they were killed. If the circumstances and responsibilities are not clearly established, suspicions will persist about the US army’s involvement.”
Photographer Namir Noor-Eldeen, 22, and his driver, Saeed Chmagh, 40, were killed in east Baghdad by gunfire of unclear origin. Witnesses said a rocket was fired from a US helicopter. But other sources told Reuters they could have been killed by a mortar shell fired by Iraqi militia members.
Reuters chief executive Tom Glocer said: “Noor-Eldeen and Chmagh’s outstanding contribution to reporting on the unfolding events in Iraq has been vital. They stand alongside other colleagues in Reuters who have died doing a job that they believe in.”
Reporters Without Borders has also learned that Khaled W. Hassan, 23, an Iraqi journalist employed by the New York Times, was gunned down as he was going to work today in the south Baghdad district of Saidiyah. He had worked for the New York Times for four years and was its second employee to be killed in Iraq. The press freedom organisation urges the Iraqi authorities to establish the exact circumstances of his death.
Covering the war in Iraq is now the most dangerous job in the world for journalists. A total of 194 have been killed in Iraq since the start of the war. Reporters Without Borders is also without any word as to the fate of 14 Iraqi journalists who have been kidnapped, some of them more than a year ago.