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Iraq22 March 2003

Two journalists killed, two missing and two wounded

War in Iraq - 23.3.03

Update at 2000 GMT

The British ITV News (ITN) announced that its special correspondent Terry Lloyd had been killed, apparently in gunfire from US-British forces. Two other ITN journalists have been missing since 22 March and an ITN cameraman was wounded.

The four were caught in gunfire at Iman Anas as they were driving towards Basra in two civilian vehicles, unconnected with any military convoy. ITN said the body of Lloyd (see photo), a 51-year-old Briton, was at Basra hospital. ITN cameraman Fred Nerac (French) and fixer Hussein Osman (Lebanese) were missing. Belgian freelance cameraman Daniel Demoustier, working for ITN, was wounded and reported hospitalised.

Australian cameraman Paul Moran, 39, of the Australian ABC TV network, was killed on 22 March in a car bomb explosion in Iraqi Kurdistan. ABC correspondent Eric Campbell, who was with him, was wounded. The attack was at a checkpoint outside the village of Khormal, near the Iranian border. The journalists were waiting to enter the village to talk to refugees when a taxi appeared behind them and exploded.

The border area, stronghold of the Kurdish Islamist group Ansar al-Islam, had been attacked by US missiles the night before. A photographer who witnessed the blast said the car bomb was aimed at the many journalists who were at the checkpoint.

Another group of journalists, including a reporter and a photographer from Newsweek magazine, were caught in gunfire on the road to Basra on 22 March. None of them was hurt and they were picked up by US forces.

Reporters Without Borders is shocked at these two deaths and the fact that two others are missing. The victims have paid a high price for their determination to inform the public freely and fully about the military operations in Iraq. In a war that also includes a fierce media battle, the task of seeking independent information is especially vital if world public opinion is to avoid being the target of manipulation and propaganda.

"These tragedies must not be used by the warring parties as a pretext to further reduce the freedom of journalists to do their job in the war zone," said Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Robert Ménard.

The organisation insists that the warring parties avoid all action that knowingly endangers the lives and safety of those in the media. It notes that four journalists were killed in the 1991 Gulf War. German photographer Gad Gross was executed by the Iraqi army in Iraqi Kurdistan and three British freelance journalists working for the BBC TV are thought to have been killed by their Turkish guide.

These new deaths are more names on the long list of journalists killed while doing their job. Between 1992 and 2002, more than 500 were killed, nearly half of them in war zones and 73 per cent after being identified as journalists and killed in attacks or gunfire. Only 27 per cent of the deaths were accidental.

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