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Allied forces might have killed British journalist


AFP AND REUTERS
Monday, Mar 24, 2003,Page 2

A veteran British war correspondent, missing in southern Iraq along with a cameraman and their translator, were presumed dead after being hit by "friendly fire" from allied tanks, according to a newspaper report yesterday.

Journalist Terry Lloyd, 51, cameraman Fred Nerac and translator Hussein Othman, 28, a Lebanese resident in Kuwait, went missing as they were traveling to the southeast Iraqi city of Basra, the immediate objective of US-led forces invading Iraq, Lloyd's employer ITN television news said.

Another cameraman in the crew, Daniel Demoustier, was injured in the incident at the town of Iman Anas, but was able to get to safety.

He was rescued from a roadside ditch by Barbara Jones, a journalist for the Mail on Sunday weekly, who reported that US tanks had fired on the television crew.

Jones said in an article for her paper that Demoustier told her his crew's Jeeps had been fired on by tanks while they were trying to drive away from a group of Iraqi soldiers. The Iraqis had apparently been trying to surrender.

"Immediately the allied tanks started heavy firing directly at us. Rounds were coming straight at the Jeep, smashing the windows and puncturing holes in the bodywork," Demoustier was quoted as saying.

"Then the whole car was on fire. We were enveloped in flames. It was terrifying.

"I'm so angry that we were fired on by the allies. The Iraqis must have been their real target but I'm sure they were surrendering -- and anyway they were all dead within minutes."

ITN said in its evening news program Saturday: "Fourteen hours after the incident, we still have no conclusive evidence as to the whereabouts of the three missing men. However, such evidence as we do have has given us increased cause for concern."

"Of course our thoughts tonight are with the families of Terry, Fred and Hussein Othman."

Britain's Ministry of Defence said that it was still not clear what had happened to Lloyd and his colleagues.

"We are still trying to establish the details of what happened," a spokesman said.
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