Text of press release by Paris-based organization Reporters Sans Frontieres (RSF) on 18 May
The bodies of two Iraqi journalists employed by the US television network ABC, cameraman Al'a al-Din Aziz and soundman Sa'if Layth Yusuf, were found today in Baghdad's Yarmuk hospital. They had been kidnapped by unidentified gunmen as they were going home after work yesterday.
"In Iraq, armed groups murder journalists for no other reason than to prevent the circulation of news and information," the press freedom organization said. "These attacks take place in broad daylight with people looking on. Despite being careful whenever they go into the field, Iraqi journalists are never as vulnerable as when they are returning home at the end of the day without any protection."
Aziz, 33, and his brother-in-law, Yusuf, 26, were just a few metres from the complex where they lived in the east Baghdad neighbourhood of Al-Baia'a when their car was blocked by two vehicles carrying gunmen, who drove away with them.
They had been working for ABC for many months. "They are really our eyes and ears in Iraq," ABC Baghdad correspondent Terry McCarthy said, speaking of the network's Iraqi employees. "Many places in Baghdad are just too dangerous for foreigners to go now, so we have Iraqi camera crews who very bravely go out. Without them, we are blind, we cannot see what's going on."
At least 176 journalists and media assistants have been killed in Iraq since the start of the US-led invasion in March 2003. Two others are missing and 12 are being held hostage.
Source: Reporters Sans Frontieres press release, Paris, in English 18 May 07