September 25, 2003—The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) strongly condemns a bomb attack on a Baghdad hotel this morning, in which a journalist from the U.S. network NBC was injured. The attack may have been aimed specifically at NBC’s Baghdad bureau, whose journalists were the hotel’s only residents, according to the network.
NBC News reported that a small explosive device detonated at around 7 a.m. outside of the Al-Aike Hotel in central Baghdad where NBC News has based its Iraq operations for the past two months. Citing Iraqi police, NBC said that the bomb had been placed just outside the hotel’s wall, inside a hut that housed a hotel generator.
The blast, which shattered windows and caused some damage to the building’s interior, killed a hotel security guard and slightly injured NBC News soundman David Moodie, who was one of about a dozen NBC employees in the hotel. At the time of the blast, Moodie was in his hotel room, which is located near the generator hut, and was struck by flying glass.
NBC reporter Jim Avila told viewers this morning that the Al-Aike Hotel was being used solely by NBC News. He said the building had no identifiable markings that indicated it was being used by NBC News.
Since U.S. led forces toppled Saddam Hussein’s regime in April, media security consultants and journalists working in Baghdad have expressed concerns that hotels used by international media are potential “soft targets” for terrorists. Some journalists residing in hotels in Baghdad have also cited fears about inadequate security at some hotels which they say leaves them vulnerable to attack.
“We are alarmed by this apparent attack on an international media organization,” said Joel Campagna, CPJ’s Middle East program coordinator. “This bombing elevates existing concerns for the safety of all journalists working in Iraq.”