Reporters Without Borders strongly condemned the shooting of two BBC journalists reporting on terrorists in Saudi Arabia. Irish cameraman Simon Cumbers died in the fusillade, while his colleague Frank Gardner was seriously injured.
Reporters Without Borders has strongly condemned the shooting of two journalists working for the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) in Riyadh on 6 June 2004. Irish cameraman Simon Cumbers, 36, was killed in the attack, believed carried out by Islamist militants, and his British colleague Frank Gardner, 42, was seriously injured. Gardner, the BBC's security correspondent and a leading expert on al-Qaeda, underwent an operation on 6 June at King Faisal Takhassussi hospital in Riyadh. A spokesman for the British Embassy in Saudi Arabia said his condition was "critical" but "stable". The international press freedom organisation said it was seriously concerned about this first attack, involving extreme violence, against foreign journalists operating in Saudi Arabia, where their working conditions were already made very difficult by the authorities' constant surveillance. It is the fourth time in five weeks that Westerners have been attacked in the country. Reporters Without Borders called on the Saudi authorities to carry out a full and quick investigation to identify the perpetrators of the murder. A Western diplomat said that Simon Cumbers and Frank Gardner had been travelling in a car with a Saudi information ministry "minder". Gunmen opened fire as they were filming in a street in the al-Suwaydi district close to the home of Ibrahim al-Raies, a militant killed by Saudi security forces in December 2003. This neighbourhood is seen as a militant stronghold and home to 15 of the 26 most wanted terrorists in the country. Saudi security forces said the two gunmen fled after the attack. The BBC crew had arrived in Saudi Arabia last week following the attack on the oil-producing city of Khobar in the east of the country. Twenty-two people, 19 of them Westerners, died in the attack, blamed on al-Qaeda.