I am really shocked by the horrifying news today of the murder of Alarabiya reporter Atwar Bahjat and her crew in Samarra, Iraq.
Two gunmen pulled up in a pickup truck, shooting in the air and shouting: "We want the correspondent," The Associated Press quoted Al-Arabiya as reporting. "Atwar was in the news van and shouted to the crowd to help her."
"The crew tried to speak to the gunmen, but they snatched them and took them [to] an unknown location. By this time, night had fallen," Reuters quoted Al-Arabiya’s Baghdad correspondent Ahmed al-Saleh as telling viewers. Saleh said the bodies had been dumped near the town of Dawr near Samarra. All three were Iraqi citizens. Source: [CNN]
I met Atwar briefly last year in Doha, Qatar. I remember her as being so extremely friendly. I’m really just appalled by such a cold-blooded murder. May her soul rest in peace. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has issued a statement on the killings:
We are horrified by this appalling act. We will never stop repeating that journalists are neutral and vital observers. They are neither combatants nor targets to be shot down. Their work must be protected and respected, whatever their nationality and regardless of which media they work for.
… A total of 82 journalists and media assistants have been killed since the start of the war in Iraq. Seven of them have died since 1st January 2006, making this start of the year the most deadly in three years. Atwar Bahjat is the 7th woman journalist to be killed since the war in Iraq began.
The situation in Iraq seems to be getting worse by the day. When will all this mayhem come to an end once and for all!