Reporters Without Borders is dismayed to learn that five journalists were killed when gunmen staged a suicide attack yesterday on the headquarters of Salaheddin TV in the northern city of Tikrit.
Two of the four gunmen detonated their explosive vests while security forces shot the other two before they could detonate theirs. Owned by the local government, Salaheddin is the biggest TV station in Salaheddin province.
The five employees killed by the explosions were chief news editor Raad Yassin, producer Jamal Abdel Nasser, cameraman Mohamed Ahmad Al-Khatib, presenter Wissam Al-Azzawi and the archives manager Mohamed Abdel Hamid. Four other employees were injured.
“We offer our heartfelt condolences to the families and colleagues of these journalists and we urge the authorities to ensure that this attack is independently investigated and that those behind it are brought to justice,” Reporters Without Borders said. “This appalling act cannot go unpunished.
“The horrific scale and targeted nature of this attack is unfortunately indicative of a decline in the security situation for journalists in Iraq. More and more journalists are being targeted because of their work. The authorities have a duty to ensure that they are able to work without fearing for their safety.”
Reporters Without Borders wrote to the Iraqi authorities on 18 December about the situation of freedom of information in Iraq and the security climate for media personnel. RWB is now releasing the text of the letter and hopes the authorities will take the necessary measures to end these attacks.
Journalists are increasingly the targets of deliberate attacks whose perpetrators and instigators are rarely identified. At least 12 have been killed in the past three months. Others have been threatened. But the authorities still have not taken the necessary measures to protect journalists and still have not ordered proper investigations aimed at bringing these responsible to justice.