Iraq: Two journalists shot dead, suicide bombing kills twelve

An image grab taken on October 5, 2013 from Iraq's Sharqiya channel shows file pictures of the television's correspondent Mohammed Karim al-Badrani (L) and his cameraman Mohammed Ghanem as their killing in the northern city of Mosul was announced by the private TV station. (Photo: AFP / Sharqiya)

Published Saturday, October 5, 2013

Updated 8:22 pm: Two journalists with Iraq's Sharqiya television were "assassinated" in the northern city of Mosul on Saturday, the channel said.

In a separate attack north of Baghdad Saturday, a suicide bomber killed at least 12 people at a cafe, police said.

A police officer and a doctor confirmed that the two journalists – named by Sharqiya as correspondent Mohammed Karim al-Badrani and cameraman Mohammed Ghanem – were shot dead.

The pair's reports on security forces and officials in Mosul brought death threats from militant groups opposed to the government, a Sharqiya journalist told AFP on condition of anonymity.

Mosul is one of the most dangerous areas in Iraq, with militants frequently carrying out attacks and also reportedly extorting money from shopowners in the city.

It was not clear who was behind the killings. Mosul, capital of the province of Nineveh, is a stronghold for Islamist and other insurgents.

The journalists worked for Iraqi television channel al-Sharqiya News, which is often critical of the government and is popular among the country's Sunni minority.

"They shot them in the chest and head, killing them instantly," said a security source who declined to be named.

Iraq is considered one of the most dangerous countries for journalists. According to the Baghdad-based Journalism Freedoms Observatory, 261 journalists have been killed and 46 kidnapped since 2003, the year of the US-led invasion of Iraq.

Iraq has come in for repeated criticism over shortcomings in media freedom.

"Many Iraqi journalists are routinely exposed to threats, murder attempts, attacks, difficulties obtaining permission, denial of access, confiscation of equipment and so on," media rights watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said earlier this year.

Journalists with the appropriate government permits are routinely barred from approaching the sites of attacks and prevented from otherwise freely reporting in Baghdad.

Photo and video cameras are often viewed with suspicion by security forces.

It is difficult to bring cameras into the capital's heavily-fortified Green Zone, where the government is headquartered, even for official news conferences and events.

Separately Saturday a suicide bomber blew himself up inside a cafe in a town north of the Iraqi capital on Saturday, killing at least 12 people, police said.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the bomb attack, but suicide bombings are the hallmark of al-Qaeda, which has been regaining momentum this year.

The bombing in Balad, (50 miles) north of Baghdad, follows an almost identical attack on the same cafe 40 days ago.

"I received the corpse of my cousin. It was completely charred and difficult to identify," said Abdullah al-Baldawi.

Violence has reached a level unseen since 2008.

(AFP, Reuters)

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