Reporters' group calls for Iraqi action after five more media employees killed

[Associated Press ]

Reporters Without Borders on Thursday urged Iraqi authorities to step up efforts to protect journalists in Iraq after it said five media employees were killed in less than a week.

The Paris-based advocacy group said a new string of killings after the adoption of a U.N. Security Council resolution on the protection of journalists underscored the importance of Iraqi government intervention.

"How many more deaths will we have to count before the Iraqi authorities decide to put an end to impunity?" Reporters Without Borders asked in a statement on Thursday. "Although many others fall victim to the daily violence ravaging Iraq, journalists are for the most part deliberately targeted because of what they do. Those responsible must be found and punished, or else these killings will continue."

The group said six media employees had been killed in less than a week.

On Dec. 23, the U.N. Security Council condemned attacks on journalists during armed conflicts and urged combatants to stop singling out members of the media and respect their professional independence.

The resolution adopted unanimously by the council was the first time that the United Nations' most powerful body dealt specifically with journalists covering wars.

Reporters Without Borders said four employees of the governmental daily newspaper Al-Sabah were "killed in an especially horrifying manner" in the first part of January, including two who were kidnapped from the newspaper's offices in Baghdad on Jan. 12 and found with their throats cut the next day.

"It seems the government is unable to provide the proper protection, so the journalists will face the dangers," the newspaper's former editor, Mohammed Abdul Jaabar al-Shabout, told The Associated Press.

The other killings included Yassin Aid Assef, the newspaper's correspondent in the volatile province of Anbar, who was killed by a bomb while covering a story in Baghdad.

The body of a security guard was found on the newspaper's roof on Jan. 16, apparently shot from a distance while on patrol.

In a separate case, gunmen opened fire on freelance journalist Khoudr Younes al-Obaidi on 12 January, killing him instantly.

Journalist Falah Khalaf Al Diyali of the daily al-Saha also was shot to death on Jan. 15 in the volatile city of Ramadi, west of Baghdad, the group said.

Meanwhile, Akil Adnan Majid, al-Sabah's accountant, was kidnapped outside the newspaper's premises in Baghdad on Jan. 9, the group said, adding that six journalists and media assistants are being held hostage in Iraq.

Reporters Without Borders said 146 journalists and media assistants have been killed since the U.S.-led invasion of March 2003.

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The media's job is to interest the public in the public interest. -John Dewey