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A fourth journalist kidnapped since the start of the year

(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders has called for the immediate release of Ali Abdullah Fayad, journalist from the privately-owned tri-weekly "al Safir", who was kidnapped by an unknown group in Kut, south-east of Baghdad on 21 March 2006.

"This kidnapping is part of a wave of abductions which have rapidly increased in these last three months," said Reporters Without Borders. After Jill Carroll, Rim Zeid and Marwan Khazaal, Ali Abdullah Fayad is the fourth journalist to be kidnapped in Iraq since the start of 2006.

"This situation is extremely alarming: with the surge in kidnappings and murders of journalists these last few months, the country is closing in on itself," the organisation said.

The kidnapping of Ali Abdallah Fayad was claimed by the Baath Party brigade, a hitherto unknown organisation. Someone claiming to speak for the organisation phoned the editor of "al Safir" and demanded 30 million dinars (20,000 euros) in exchange for the release of Ali Abdullah Fayad. He also called for the release of three of its members, held by the Iraqi authorities.

"Al Safir" has lost two journalists since the start of the war in Iraq. Its bureau chief in Mosul, Firas Al-Maadhidi, was gunned down by two armed men on 21 September 2005, in front of his home in the An-Nur district. One of his colleagues, Hind Ismail, was killed the previous evening. She was murdered by men wearing police uniforms in central Mosul. The newspaper closed its office in the city after these killings.

Elsewhere, Muhsin Khudhair, editor of the weekly magazine "Alef Ba" was shot dead at the wheel of his car on 13 March in Sayadiya, west of Baghdad by unidentified gunmen (see IFEX alerts of 20 and 14 March 2006). He had just attended a meeting of the Iraqi journalists' union during which journalists had called for everyone to respect their neutrality in Iraq.

Ali Abdullah Fayad is the 39th journalist to be kidnapped since the start of the war in Iraq. In addition, 86 journalists and press assistants have been killed.

Date posted: March 27, 2006 Last modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 9