Iraq - Radio Free Europe correspondent missing, probably kidnapped, her driver shot dead

    MONTREAL, Oct. 23 /CNW Telbec/ - Reporters Without Borders today said it
was extremely worried by the disappearance of an Iraqi correspondent of the
US-funded Radio Free Europe/ Radio Liberty (RFE/RL). Her driver's body was
found after she went missing yesterday in Baghdad. Two RFE/RL correspondents
have already been killed since the start of the year.
    "The circumstances of her disappearance suggest she could have been
kidnapped," the press freedom organisation said. "The number of kidnappings of
journalists has fallen this year, compared with the previous two years, but
yesterday'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. A total of 85 media workers have been kidnapped 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.
    Iraq is also the world's deadliest country for the media, with a total of
205 journalists and media assistants murdered there since March 2003.
    The name of the RFE/RL correspondent who went missing yesterday has not
been released. RFE/RL said police found her driver's body in the northeast
Baghdad neighbourhood of Al-Bonuk. He had been shot dead. So far, no trace of
the journalist or her car has been found and no group has claimed
responsibility for her abduction.
    The two RFE/RL correspondents already killed this year are Khamail Khalaf
and Nizar Al-Radhi. Khalaf was kidnapped by two gunmen as he left his office
in Baghdad on 3 April. 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 30 May.

For further information:

For further information: Emily Jacquard, secretary general, Reporters
Without Borders Canada, (514) 521-4111, Cell: (514) 258-4208, Fax: (514)

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