Journalist death toll surges in Iraq

May 10, 2006 at 11:52 AM
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WASHINGTON, May 10 (UPI) -- Five journalists have been killed in recent days in Iraq, the most dangerous country in the world for news professionals according to a press freedom group.

"The first few days of May have been exceptionally murderous for the Iraqi news media," Reporters Without Borders said in a Tuesday statement. "We can no longer find words to express our horror at the tragedies constantly suffered by the press in Iraq, where 93 journalists and media assistants have been killed since the start of the war, 18 of them since the start of the year."

The body of freelance journalist Abdel Magid Al Mohammadaoui was found in Baghdad on May 5. Television reporter Saud Mazahem al-Hadithi of satellite station al-Baghdadia was found the same day. He had been kidnapped a few days before and the state of his body indicated he had been tortured.

A car bomb went off in the garage of the Baghdad-based newspaper al-Sabah on May 7, killing printing shop technician Ismail Mohammad Khalaf and injuring more than 20 other employees, including journalists.

The bodies of reporter Muazaz Ahmad Barud and soundman Leith al-Dulaimi of Iraqi TV station al-Nahrain were found on May 8 in al-Wihda, southeast of Baghdad.

A total of 42 journalists and media assistants have been kidnapped since the war started in March 2003. Five of them -- four Iraqis and Italian Enzo Baldoni -- were killed. Twenty-six of these abductions have taken place in or near Baghdad.

Three journalists are currently been held hostage: Reem Zeid and Marwan Khazaal of the Iraqi TV station al-Sumariya and Salah Jali al-Gharrawi, an employee of the Baghdad bureau of Agence France-Presse.

Reporters' has appealed to Iraqi Prime Minister-designate Nuri al-Maliki to set up a special group of investigators "to shed light on the murders of journalists in Iraq."

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