30/08/2004

Iraq conflict has claimed lives of 51 journalists: report

More than 50 journalists from 16 countries have now died covering the Iraq conflict, according to the International News Safety Institute (INSI).

The reported murder of Italian journalist Enzo Baldoni takes the total death toll in 17 months to 51 with an additional journalist, French cameraman Fred Nerac, listed as missing.

According to INSI's records, 24 were killed by terrorists or other irregular gunmen, nine by US forces and two by Iraqi troops. Two, plus one missing, were victims of US and Iraqi crossfire and six were killed by gunfire of unknown origin. Eight died in accidents or from health-related reasons.

Nerac disappeared after being caught in crossfire between US and Iraqi forces at the outset of the war, on March 22 2003, in an incident that claimed the lives of his colleague, British ITN correspondent Terry Lloyd, and their translator Hussein Osman, from Lebanon.

The ITN team and Australian freelance cameraman Paul Moran were the first media casualties of a conflict that ranks amongst the bloodiest of modern times for reporters and other members of news teams, INSI said.

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) list 63 journalists killed in Vietnam over 21 years. The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) counts 58 killed in Algeria's civil conflict between 1991 and 1996.

"The murder of Baldoni is horrible beyond words. Iraq continues to be a ghastly war for the news media," said INSI Director Rodney Pinder.

"Journalists and their support staff are civilians, bravely putting their lives on the line to tell the world, from every point of view, what is going on in Iraq.

"We pleaded in vain at the start of this war for all sides to respect the safety of journalists. We again appeal to all of those with guns to recognise the neutrality of the news media and allow them to go about their business free from threat or harm."

Journalists, including writers, camera operators, photographers, producers, have suffered the most in Iraq with 37 dead and one missing. Fourteen support staff, mainly drivers and translators without whom international journalists would not be able to work properly, have died.

Twenty-eight Iraqis have died, more than any other nationality. The death toll also comprises news media workers from Algeria, Argentine (2), Australia (2), Britain (3), Germany, Iran, Italy, Japan (2), Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, Poland, Spain (2), Ukraine and the United States (3).

(gmcg)

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