WASHINGTON -- The killing of four Dutch journalists in El Salvador was deplored Thursday by the U.S. State Department.
'We regard it as a tragedy when the press, in pursuit of its own profession, pays such a price,' said a spokeswoman for the State Department.
The journalists, one of them recently questioned by police about his links to leftist guerrillas, were shot three miles from El Paraiso, a major army base in northern El Salvador, the Dutch consulsaid.
'We deeply regret the deaths of the four Dutch journalists,' the spokeswoman said. 'Along with their journalistic colleagues from a number of countries, the media has worked hard to report and interpret events in El Salvador for millions of people outside the country.'
The slayings followed the delivery of death threats Wednesday to 35 local and foreign journalists, including a number of American reporters, by the Anti-Communist Alliance of El Salvador, a right-wing group. The four slain Dutch journalists were not on the list.
'As we noted earlier today, our reports are still fragmentary,' the State Department spokeswoman said. 'The four Dutch journalists were killed in a battle between guerrillas and Salvadoran armed forces troops near Paraiso on the evening of March 17. The Salvadoran government has already initiated its own investigation into the incident.'