Iraq - Four-member TV crew kidnapped and killed in Mosul

    MONTREAL, Sept. 15 /CNW Telbec/ - Reporters Without Borders is appalled
and saddened by the murder of four employees of privately-owned TV station
Al-Sharqiya yesterday in the northern city of Mosul. Al-Sharqiya's news
director noted that the murders followed a smear campaign against the station
by state TV broadcaster Al Iraqiya.
    "We condemn the abduction and murder of the three Al-Sharqiya journalists
and their driver and we call for a thorough investigation into the
circumstances," Reporters Without Borders said. "The comments by Al-Sharqiya's
news director make such an investigation all the more urgent."
    The Al-Sharqiya TV crew - consisting of Mosul bureau chief Musab al-Azawi
(the son of a parliamentarian), cameramen Ahmed Salem and Ihab Maad and driver
Qaidar Suleiman - were kidnapped by gunmen at midday while filming in the
central Mosul neighbourhood of Al-Zenjili for a programme about Ramadan, which
began two weeks ago. Their bullet-riddled bodies were found in a nearby
district later yesterday.
    The sequence they were filming would have shown Al-Sharqiya bringing food
and gifts for a poor family for the Iftar, the meal with which the daily fast
is broken every evening during Ramadan. The station broadcasts to Iraq by
satellite from Dubai
    Ninevah province police spokesman Khlalid Abdul Sattar said four suspects
had been arrested in connection with the murders. Located 370 km north of
Baghdad, Mosul is the capital of Ninevah.
    Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki today gave orders for a special
commission to be created to investigate the murders.
    In a statement on the air, an Al-Sharqiya announcer blamed the murders on
"dark forces that are destabilizing the security in Iraq, silencing the voices
of freedom and attacking the national independent media."
    Speaking in Dubai, Al-Sharqiya news director Ali Wajih accused Iraqi
public TV station Al-Iraqiya of waging "a campaign of slander" against
Al-Sharqiya's journalists after it broadcast a programme about torture in
Iraqi prisons a week ago. He said the aim of the campaign was to "put pressure
on journalists working for independent media." As a result of accusing
Al-Sharqiya of "harming Iraqis," Al-Iraqiya bore "moral responsibility" for
the crew's deaths, he said.
    This is not the first time members of the station's staff have been
murdered. Al-Sharqiya journalist Likaa Abdel-Razak and her interpreter were
killed in 2004 when gunmen fired on their taxi in Baghdad. The taxi driver was
also killed.
    The TV crew's abduction and murder came amid a wave of violence in
northern Iraq, with around 20 people being killed in bombings yesterday alone.
At least 217 journalists and media assistants have been killed in Iraq since
the start of the US-led invasion in March 2003.

For further information:

For further information: Katherine Borlongan, secretary general,
Reporters Without Borders, (514) 521-4111, Cell: (514) 258-4188, Fax: (514)

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