New York, May 31, 2005—The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the murder of an Iraqi sports journalist by unidentified gunmen in Baghdad today. Ali Jaafar, 24, a well-known sports correspondent and anchor at Iraq’s state television channel Al-Iraqiya, was shot as he opened up his recently deceased brother’s auto shop near his home in Al-Shorta al-Rabaa in southwest Baghdad, according to CPJ sources and international news reports. His colleagues believe he was killed because he worked for Al-Iraqiya.
“We deplore the senseless murder of our colleague Ali Jaafar and our sympathies go out to his colleagues and family,” CPJ Executive Director Ann Cooper said. “This murder underscores the devastating toll that this conflict continues to take on local journalists. According to CPJ research, nearly 80 percent of journalists and media support staffers killed in Iraq have been local Iraqis.”
Insurgents have frequently targeted Al-Iraqiya and its staff because of the station’s ties to the U.S.-supported Iraqi government. Insurgents have killed at least 16 other employees of the station and its affiliates since 2004, and their offices have repeatedly come under mortar attack.
Seventy-three journalists and 26 media support workers have been killed since the war began on March 20, 2003, making it the deadliest conflict in CPJ’s 25-year history.