Al-Arabiya reporter killed, two other journalists wounded in Baghdad fighting

New York, September 12, 2004—A reporter for Al-Arabiya television was killed and two other journalists were wounded today after a U.S. helicopter fired missiles and machine guns to destroy a disabled American vehicle, international news reports said.

Mazen al-Tumeizi, who was taping a report today during some the heaviest fighting in the capital in weeks, became the 33rd journalist killed in Iraq by Iraqi forces, armed groups, and U.S. troops since hostilities began in March 2003. At least 25 Iraqis were killed and more than 100 injured in the capital today, according to news reports.

Fighting broke out on Haifa Street in the center of Baghdad around dawn, when a U.S. Bradley armored vehicle caught fire and its four crew members were evacuated with minor injuries, according to news reports. As a crowd gathered, one or more U.S. helicopters opened fire.

Video aired by al-Arabiya showed al-Tumeizi was preparing a report nearby when an explosion behind him caused him to double over and scream, “I’m dying, I’m dying.” He died moments later, the Dubai-based station reported.

Two other journalists were reported wounded in the helicopter strike.Military spokesman Lt. Col. Steven Boylan told The Associated Press that a U.S. helicopter fired on the disabled Bradley vehicle to prevent looters from stripping it.

Reuters quoted a statement it said was issued later by the military, which offered a different account. “As the helicopters flew over the burning Bradley they received small-arms fire from the insurgents in vicinity of the vehicle,” the statement said. “Clearly within the rules of engagement, the helicopters returned fire destroying some anti-Iraqi forces in the vicinity of the Bradley.”

Seif Fouad, a camera operator for Reuters Television was hospitalized after being wounded in the attack, the news agency said, but the precise nature of his injuries was not immediately disclosed.Ghaith Abdul Ahad, a freelance photographer working for Getty Images, suffered head wounds while covering the clashes and the helicopter attack, the AP reported.

A militant group linked to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi said it carried out the campaign of violence in Baghdad today.