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Iraq: Two journalists among scores killed in insurgent operation in Tikrit

Residents pray over the coffin of Iraqi journalist Sabah al-Bazi before his burial at a cemetery in Samarra, 100 km north of Baghdad March 29, 2011. Sabah al-Bazi, a freelancer who worked for Reuters, was among more than 50 people killed on Tuesday when gunmen attacked a local government building in Tikrit, hometown of former leader Saddam Hussein.

Two Iraqi journalists, Sabah al-Bazi and Muammar Khadir Abdelwahad, were among the fatal victims of Tuesday’s devastating insurgent attack on the Salahadin provincial council’s headquarter in the city of Tikrit (160 km north of Baghdad).

Agence France-Presse quoted a police spokesman as putting the toll from the attack at least 65 dead and 100 wounded. Saad Khaled, a cameraman working for the satellite TV station Al-Fayhaa, was among the seriously injured.

The insurgent operation began in the early afternoon when gunmen wearing explosive vests seized control of the provincial council building in the city centre, taking advantage of the confusion result from a suicide bombing a few minutes earlier outside a nearby public building. A car bomb parked near the entrance of the council building went off 20 minutes later, just as security reinforcements were arriving.

Al-Bazi, a freelance journalist who worked for Al-Arabiya, CNN, Reuters and other international media, was fatally injured by shrapnel from this blast. He had gone to cover a meeting taking place there. It is not clear exactly how Abdelwahad, who worked for Ayn (Eye Media Agency), died. The Journalistic Freedoms Observatory quoted Ayn as saying he was in permanent contact with the agency while in the building. “We lost contact at the moment of the assault by the security forces. We later learned that he was dead.”

“We firmly condemn this indiscriminate slaughter in an operation deliberately targeting a public building,” Paris-based press freedom group Reporters sans Frontières (RSF) said. “We offer our condolences to the families of all the victims of this act of terrorism, including the two journalists. We urge the authorities to investigate this attack and bring those responsible to justice.”

The Journalistic Freedoms Observatory paid tribute to Al-Bazi’s professional dedication and personal qualities. Aged 30, he was married and the father of three children. Abdelwahad, 39, had worked for Ayn for two years.

"We extend our deepest condolences to Sabah al-Bazi's family and his colleagues," said Mohamed Abdel Dayem, Committe to Protect Journalists (CPJ) Middle East and North Africa programme coordinator. "We urge Iraqi authorities to do their utmost to bring the perpetrators of this crime to justice."

Date posted: March 31, 2011 Last modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 265