BRUSSELS, April 8 (UPI) -- The International Federation of Journalists on Tuesday accused U.S. and Iraqi forces of committing war crimes against reporters after five correspondents were killed around Baghdad in less than 24 hours.
The IFJ, which represents 500,000 journalists worldwide in more than 100 countries, called for an independent inquiry into the deaths.
"There is no doubt at all that these attacks could be targeting journalists," said Aidan White, General Secretary of the IFJ. "If so, they are grave and serious violations of international law."
"The bombing of hotels where journalists are staying and the targeting of Arab media are particularly shocking events in a war which is being fought in the name of democracy. Those who are responsible must be brought to justice."
Two cameramen working for Spain's Telecinco TV station and the Reuters news agency died Tuesday and four other journalists were wounded when an American tank blasted Baghdad's Palestine Hotel. U.S. army officials said troops were responding to sniper fire from the high-rise hotel, where much of the international media is based.
"Journalists are never targeted, but war is a dangerous event. These people are in a combat zone," said Rumi Nielson Green, a spokesman for the U.S. command in Doha, Qatar.
In a separate incident, a correspondent from the al-Jazeera network was killed and a colleague injured when U.S. missiles landed on the station's Baghdad office.
A U.S. State Department Spokesman said the building was hit by mistake. "It is something we all regret. But I don't believe that it is possible that it was deliberate," Nabil Khoury told the Qatar-based broadcasting company.
On Monday, two Spanish and German reporters were killed when an Iraqi missile struck a U.S. army camp south of Baghdad. The IFJ says 12 journalists have been killed in the two-week-long campaign to oust Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.
While accusing U.S. forces of deliberately targeting al-Jazeera, White accused the Iraqi regime of using journalists as human shields.
"The Baghdad authorities are just as culpable with their reckless disregard for civilian lives," he said.
The Brussels-based IFJ called for a review of international rules to improve journalists' protection during conflicts.
"This war has been the most televised conflict in history," said White, "but the protection afforded to journalists and media staff is prehistoric by comparison."