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Killings continue in Iraq; Third journalist murdered in a week

Gunmen assassinated the editor of an Iraqi weekly near his home in Baghdad, police and colleagues said on Tuesday, in the third killing of an Iraqi journalist in a week, Reuters has reported.

ASSAULT UNABATED: Iraqis carry the coffin of Amjad Hameed, a senior Iraqi state television editor, during his funeral in Baghdad March 11, 2006. Gunmen assassinated Hameed, along with his driver, on Saturday last as they headed to work in Baghdad, police and the channel said. He was the second Iraqi journalist to be killed in a week. (Reuters/Ali Jasim)

Hours before he was gunned down on Monday evening, Muhsin Khudhair, editor of news magazine Alef Ba, had attended a meeting of the Iraqi Journalists Union in which they urged all sides to recognise the neutrality of journalists in Iraq.

"Iraqi journalists now have become a target because they are the only ones who are working in the field after the withdrawal of Arab and other foreign journalists," Shihab al-Timimi, head of the journalists union, said on Monday after the meeting.

The killing punctuated a deadly week for the press. Amjad Hameed, head of programming for Iraq's national television channel Al-Iraqiya, and driver Anwar Turki were killed on Saturday by gunmen apparently affiliated with al-Qaeda. Munsuf Abdallah al-Khaldi, a presenter for Baghdad TV, was killed by unidentified gunmen last Tuesday as he was driving from Baghdad to the northern city of Mosul.

Two people have been arrested in Abu Ghraib, 20 km west of Baghdad, for the March 11 murder of Hameed and Turki. The arrests followed the appearance of a message from the Mujahideen Consultative Council on its website claiming responsibility for the killings. Its authenticity could not be confirmed, Reporters sans Frontières (RSF) said.

Dominated by the Iraqi wing of Al-Qaeda, the MCC said in the message : "Your brothers in the military wing of the Mujahideen Council murdered Amjad Hameed Hassan, the director of Al-Iraqiya ... We consider this TV station to be the mouthpiece of the government ... always ready to broadcast lies about jihad and the mujahideen to please the crusaders."

Meanwhile, according to the International Journalists' Network (IJNet), after two days of meetings and discussions, several journalists in Iraq formed the Lajnat Himayat Al-Sihafieen Al-Iraqqeen – or the Committee to Protect Iraqi Journalists. They hope the committee will be a step toward ending the wave of violence against their colleagues.

Fatah Al-Shaikh, a government relations advisor for the Syndicate of Iraqi Journalists, announced the committee's formation on March 14, according to the independent, Denmark-based Iraqi News Agency (INA). He said the committee's goal was to find ways to help protect journalists and reduce danger while they work. The committee is already exploring some suggestions related to security, Shaikh said.

Among other things, the committee plans to organise newspaper strikes to raise public awareness, and also to be available to discuss incidents of violence with satellite channels. Shaikh said the committee would call on the government to provide protection for journalists and to follow up on investigations into journalists' deaths over the past few years. The group formed a subcommittee that will lobby top Iraqi officials on these issues.

Date posted: March 16, 2006 Last modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 14