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Journalists die in US attacks

April 9 2003

Jose Couso, a cameraman with the Spanish television channel Telecinco, was killed after suffering wounds in the leg and jaw in the Palestine Hotel incident yesterday. Photo: AFP

Tareq Ayub, a correspondent for the Qatar-based Al-Jazeera satellite television station, died of his injuries after a US missile strike on the station's Baghdad offices, the Arabic news channel reported.

A cameraman, Zuheir al-Iraqi, was hit in the neck by shrapnel in the blast, which the network said was a deliberate strike.

Ayub had been seriously injured and the station aired footage of him being taken away for treatment in a car belonging to rival Abu Dhabi satellite television.

A Jordanian of Palestinian origin, Ayub, 34, was married with two children and had been in Baghdad for less than a week after leaving his normal base in Jordan.

Al-Jazeera's presenter accused the US military of deliberately targeting its offices and recalled that the station's Kabul bureau had been hit in November 2001 during the US-led assault on the Taliban regime in Afghanistan.

The television station's offices are on the road between the Mansur Hotel and the planning ministry, not far from the Republican Palace compound where fierce fighting raged between US and Iraqi troops early yesterday.

Abu Dhabi TV announced its Baghdad bureau had also been hit and broadcast a live report showing its camera position under attack.

As they filmed the arrival of two US tanks on a major bridge in central Baghdad close to their offices overlooking the river, what appeared to be Iraqi machine-gun fire clattered out from just beneath the camera position.

Several incoming blasts boomed out, engulfing the area in smoke and Abu Dhabi TV said it had lost contact with its correspondent.

In a separate incident, a cameraman of British news agency Reuters was killed and three other staff members were wounded when a US tank fired a shell at Baghdad's main media hotel during fighting across the capital.

US commanders said their troops fired a single tank shell at the Palestine Hotel after being shot at from an upper floor.

But European Union officials said they intended to make representations to the United States to provide greater protection to journalists covering the conflict.

Reuters named the dead man as Taras Protsyuk, 35, a Ukrainian national.

"Taras's death, and the injuries sustained by the others, were so unnecessary," said Reuters' editor in chief Geert Linnebank.

He called into question the "judgement of advancing US troops who have known all along that this hotel is the main base for almost all foreign journalists in Baghdad".

Jose Couso, a cameraman with the Spanish television channel Telecinco, was also killed after suffering wounds in the leg and jaw in the incident, Telecinco announced during a morning current affairs program.

Reuters has its offices on the 15th floor of the Palestine Hotel, which houses most of the foreign media covering the Iraq war.

The 15th and 17th floors of the hotel were struck, blowing out windows as fierce exchanges raged on the 20th day of the US-led war. The 14th floor was also damaged.

A hole was knocked in the hotel facade, laying bare the metal structure of a column running past a balcony.

Dubai's Al-Arabiya television channel said its bureau on the 17th floor also suffered damage. General Buford Blount, commander of the US 3rd Infantry Division said a US tank was "receiving fire from the hotel, RPG (rocket-propelled grenade) and small-arms fire, and engaged with one tank round. The firing stopped."

But in Greece, the current president of the European Union, government spokesman Christos Protopapas described the strike as repugnant.

Following is a chronology of reporters' casualties during the war:

April 7

  • Christian Liebig, a correspondent with Germany weekly Focus, and Julio Anguita Parrado from Spanish daily El Mundo are killed after a missile attack on a US operations centre.

  • Al-Jazeera accuses US forces of firing on one of its vehicles near Baghdad and says its office in the southern city of Basra "was the direct target of shelling" on April 2.

    April 6

  • US NBC television journalist David Bloom, 39, "embedded" with US troops in Iraq dies near Baghdad, apparently of natural causes.

  • Kamaran Abdurazaq Muhamed, a 25-year-old Kurdish translator working with the BBC, dies after a US plane bombs a Kurdish-US convoy in northern Iraq in a "friendly-fire" attack.

    April 4

  • Washington Post editorial columnist Michael Kelly is killed when the Humvee vehicle in which he is travelling with US troops plunges into a canal while evading Iraqi fire on the approach to Baghdad's main airport.

    April 2

  • Kaveh Golestan, 52, a prize-winning Iranian photographer working as a cameraman with the BBC, dies when he steps out of his car onto a landmine in Kifri, in Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq.

    March 30

  • Gaby Rado, 48, covering the war for British television network ITV, is killed when he falls from the roof of the Abu Sanaa hotel in Sulaymaniya, in Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq. The circumstances of his death are not known.

    March 22

  • Australian cameraman Paul Moran, 39, on assignment for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, is killed in a suicide bombing in the northern Iraqi town of Khurmal, under Kurdish control.

  • ITN correspondent Terry Lloyd, 50, is believed to have been killed by US-British fire near Basra. Lloyd's French cameraman 43-year-old Fred Nerac and Lebanese interpreter Hussein Osman are still missing.



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