New York, July 23, 2003—French photographer Patrick Robert, who was injured while on assignment in Liberia’s capital, Monrovia, for the U.S.-based weekly Time magazine, was flown out of the country this morning.
Robert was hit by bullets in his back and arm on July 19 while covering the recent increase in fighting between forces loyal to the President Charles Taylor’s government and rebel Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD) forces.
According to sources at Time, Robert and three other photographers were with government forces when the journalist was caught in the crossfire. None of the other photographers was hit. Robert was taken to a Monrovia hospital where doctors from the International Committee of the Red Cross operated on him, removing his spleen and a kidney.
Another journalist was also injured in the crossfire between government and LURD forces in Monrovia on July 21. Tom Masland, Africa regional editor for the U.S.-based weekly Newsweek, received three pieces of shrapnel in his arm from mortar fire, Newsweek spokesperson Rosanna Maietta told The Associated Press. Maslund was treated for his injuries and returned to work.
An increasingly dangerous situation
According to sources in the capital, the situation for journalists in and around the city has become increasingly dangerous since LURD rebels launched the most recent incursion on July 19. Most Liberian journalists have taken cover for fear of being targeted or hit in the crossfire. Currently no independent newspapers are publishing in Monrovia.
All independent radio stations have ceased broadcasting, said the sources. Service on state radio and Liberian Communication Network, which is owned by President Taylor, is intermittent.
On Monday, July 21, the Catholic Church-owned Radio Veritas, the last independent news broadcaster in Monrovia, went off the air after a shell hit its transmitter, said the station’s news editor, Alphonsus Zeon.
The Committee to Protect Journalists is investigating whether the attack was deliberate.