New York, April 12, 2004—Amid a climate of increasing danger in Iraq, three Czech journalists have gone missing. A Japanese freelance journalist who was abducted on April 8, along with two other Japanese civilians, remains in captivity.
Michal Kubal and his cameraman Petr Klima, both of the public network Czech Television, are feared kidnapped since losing contact with station officials yesterday morning, according to staff in the Czech Republic’s capital, Prague. The journalists left Baghdad’s Palestine Hotel in a hired vehicle at about 7 a.m. on April 11 en route to Amman, Jordan.
The Associated Press (AP) has also reported that a third journalist, Vit Pohanka, of public station Czech Radio, “has been unaccounted for since Sunday, according to the head of the radio station’s foreign desk, Jiri Hosek.” Hosek told the AP that Pohanka may have been traveling with Kubal and Klima.
Last week, Japanese journalist Soichiro Koriyama was abducted, along with two Japanese aid workers, by an unknown group. The Qatar-based news channel Al-Jazeera broadcast footage of the three captives and reported the captors’ demand that Japanese troops leave the country or the three hostages would be burned alive in three days. The Al-Jazeera video showed the three captives, their Japanese passports, as well as a knife being placed against the neck of one of the hostages.
Koriyama is a freelance photographer on assignment for the Tokyo-based Asahi Weekly, said Koji Igarashi, the New York bureau chief for the Japanese daily Asahi Shimbun, which publishes Asahi Weekly.