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Iraq: One of two journalists abducted in Baghdad found dead

BBC Monitoring

Text of press release by Paris-based organization Reporters Sans Frontieres (RSF) on 21 May

    Reporters Without Borders today condemned yesterday's [20 May] murder in Baghdad of Ali Khalil, of the daily Al-Zaman (Time) and the kidnapping on 9 May of the journalist Salam Duhi al-Sudani.

    "Less than three days after the death of two journalists working for the US television network ABC, the profession is once again in mourning for this murder," the worldwide press freedom organization said.

    "Iraqi journalists take incalculable risks to continue doing their jobs. The press is being targeted because it now plays a very significant role in the country's reconstruction. Without these brave professionals, Iraq would become a news black hole," it added.

    Ali Khalil, 22, was abducted yesterday in the Al-Bay'a district in the south of the capital. He and his wife had just left the home of a family member when armed men in two vehicles blocked their route. They bundled the journalist into one vehicle, leaving his wife on the roadside.

    Many of his colleagues rushed to the neighbourhood to search for him. Police found his body one hour later, the head and back riddled with bullets. According to information obtained by the organization, he was probably targeted for writing an article about armed groups, in which he quoted members of parliament calling on the authorities to physically eliminate members of these groups.

    Elsewhere, there has been no news of Salam Duhi al-Sudani, a journalist in his 50s, who once worked as a sub-editor for Babil, owned by Uday Husayn, son of the former Iraqi president. More recently he worked for the daily Al-Zawra, which folded for financial reasons. He went missing on 9 May in the Latifiya district, known along with the districts of Iskandariya and Muhammadiya south of Baghdad, as the "Triangle of Death".

    At least 177 journalists and media assistants have been killed in Iraq since the start of the war in March 2003. Two are missing and 13 are currently being held hostage.

    In an unrelated incident, the US army carried out a raid on 18 May for the second time since the start of the year, at the offices of the daily Al-Da'wa, organ of the Shi'i party Al-Da'wa al-Islamiya. US soldiers seized numbers of files during their search which lasted more than three hours, Ali al-Khayat, a journalist at the paper said.

    Source: Reporters Sans Frontieres press release, Paris, in English 21 May 07



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