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Georgia - South Ossetia12 August 2008

Heavy toll for journalists - four killed and four arrested since fighting broke out

Cameraman Stan Storimans of Dutch TV station RTL-4 was killed and reporter Jeroen Akkermans, the station’s Moscow correspondent, was injured during Russian bombing of the Georgian town of Gori last night. Earlier yesterday, a Georgian reporter working for the Russian edition of Newsweek and his driver were killed when a shell hit their vehicle in Gori’s main square. читать на русском

Yesterday’s deaths came just a day after two other reporters - Giga Chikhladze, the head of Alania TV, and Alexander Klimchuk, the head of the Caucasus Press Images agency and a correspondent for Itar-Tas - were killed in the breakaway republic of South Ossetia, apparently in an attempt to pass a roadblock manned by Ossetian pro-independence fighters.

"Four journalists and a driver have been killed since fighting broke out in South Ossetia, while at least four other journalists have been injured", Reporters Without Borders said. "This toll is already heavy and we appeal to all the parties involved to tell their forces to respect the work of the press and to ensure they do not target journalists."

Hilmi Hacaloglu, a reporter with the Turkish television station NTV, his cameraman, Cumhur Catkaya, and Reporter Levent Ozt¨¹rk of the Turkish TV station Kanalturk and his cameraman, Giray Ervin, have been released by the Russian military the 12 August after being questioned for several hours.

The Association of Journalists and Foreign Correspondents in the Turkish capital of Ankara has contacted the Russian embassy in Ankara and the Turkish foreign ministry in an attempt to obtain their release.

Reporters Without Borders added: "We urged the Russian authorities to release the four NTV and Kanalturk journalists at once, and we reiterate that war reporters are civilians and, as such, enjoy international protection. There are no grounds for arresting a journalist who is just doing his job."

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