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Radio journalist goes missing in Iraq, body of her driver found in Baghdad

Radio journalist goes missing in Iraq, body of her driver found in Baghdad
Abducted and killed: The two RFE/RL correspondents already killed this year are Khamail Khalaf and Nizar Al-Radhi. Khalaf was abducted by two gunmen as he left his office in Baghdad on April 3. His body was found two days later. Radhi was killed when gunmen opened fire on a group of journalists who had gone to a news conference in the city of Amara, 365 km south of Baghdad, on May 30.

An Iraqi correspondent of the US-funded Radio Free Europe/ Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) has disappeared. Her driver’s body was found after she went missing Monday in Baghdad. Two RFE/RL correspondents have already been killed since the start of the year.

The female correspondent worked for Radio Free Iraq, the Arabic language service of RFE/RL that broadcasts to Iraq from RFE/RL headquarters in Prague. RFE/RL said it is not releasing certain details in an effort to help locate and free the correspondent. The radio service said that Iraqi police found the body of her driver in Baghdad’s Al-Shaab neighborhood. The driver was not named. So far, no trace of the journalist or her car has been found and no group has claimed responsibility for her abduction.

“We’re concerned for the safety of the abducted correspondent and outraged by the murder of her driver, events that underscore the dangers faced by everyone in the news media as they struggle to report from Iraq.” Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) Executive Director Joel Simon said. “Authorities should do everything they can to ensure the journalist is freed unharmed.”

“The circumstances of her disappearance suggest she could have been kidnapped,” Reporters sans Frontières (RSF) said. “The number of kidnappings of journalists has fallen this year, compared with the previous two years, but Monday's development suggests that the threat still exists. Journalists working for government-funded media, especially those funded by the US government, continue to be a favourite target of the armed militia operating in Iraq.”

In the past four years, Iraq has become one the world’s biggest centres for hostage-taking. According to RSF, a total of 85 media workers have been abducted since the US-led invasion in March 2003. Of these, 43 have been released, 27 have been murdered by their abductors, and the fate of the other 15, including the RFE/RL correspondent, is unknown.

According to CPJ research, at least 50 other journalists have been abducted since 2004. Monday’s murder of the driver brings the number of media support staff killed to 42; with one exception, all have been Iraqis.

Iraq is also the world’s deadliest country for the media, with 205 journalists and media assistants murdered there since March 2003, according to RSF.

The two RFE/RL correspondents already killed this year are Khamail Khalaf and Nizar Al-Radhi. Khalaf was abducted by two gunmen as he left his office in Baghdad on April 3. His body was found two days later. Radhi was killed when gunmen opened fire on a group of journalists who had gone to a news conference in the city of Amara, 365 km south of Baghdad, on May 30.

Date posted: October 24, 2007 Last modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 822