New York, May 7, 2004—The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) mourns the death of two Polish journalists who were killed this morning in a drive-by shooting in Latifiya, Iraq, about 19 miles (30 kilometers) south of the capital, Baghdad.
According to press reports, Waldemar Milewicz, one of Poland’s most experienced war correspondents, and his producer, Mounir Bouamrane, both employed by Polish state television TVP, were shot at by armed gunmen, presumably Iraqi insurgents, while riding in their car at around 9:30 a.m. The journalists were headed toward a Polish military base in Babylon, south of Baghdad, according to Agence France-Presse (AFP).
TVP cameraman Jerzy Ernst, who was also a passenger in the car along with an Iraqi driver, was injured in the arm during the attack. Press reports quoted Ernst as saying that the main southbound highway out of Baghdad was closed, so their driver took an alternate route he thought would be safe. Ernst said that the car, a sedan, came under fire from behind, and that Milewicz and Bouamrane were sitting in the back seat. After Milewicz was shot, the other passengers exited the car, but the gunfire continued, killing Bouamrane and injuring Ernst.
According to press reports, the journalists had only been in Iraq for a few days.
At least 14 journalists have been killed in Iraq since the beginning of the year. Award winning Milewicz and Bouamrane, who also has Algerian citizenship were the first non-Iraqi journalists killed this year.
“This brutal killing of our colleagues underscores that Iraq is the most dangerous place in the world right now for journalists,” said CPJ Executive Director Ann Cooper. “Our thoughts and condolences are with the families of Waldemar Milewicz and Mounir Bouamrane at this difficult time.”