Iraqi presenter, driver murdered in Baghdad

New York, October 30, 2006—The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns Sunday’s murder in central Baghdad of a presenter and a driver for the Iraqi state television channel Atyaf. Unidentified gunmen killed Naqshin Hamma Rashid, 30, and her driver Anis Qassem as the two were driving to work near Haifa Street in the morning, according to CPJ sources. Rashid, a Kurd who was also known by colleagues as Sherin Rashid, presented Kurdish-language news on Atyaf.

Atyaf is the second channel of the Iraqi Media Network and broadcasts in several languages, including Kurdish and English, according to CPJ sources. Colleagues at Al-Iraqiya, the main state television channel, said the murders were part of the continued targeting of employees of the Iraqi Media Network.

On October 13, Ali Hlayel, a security guard for Atyaf, was gunned down by unidentified assailants in Baghdad’s northwestern neighborhood of Hurriya shortly after leaving his home to go to work, Al-Iraqiya sources said.

“We condemn the brutal murders of these Iraqi journalists and support workers, and we offer our condolences to their families,” CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon said. “Journalists in Iraq continue to pay the ultimate price for practicing their profession.”

CPJ is investigating the murders of three other journalists in recent days to determine whether the killings were related to their work. Here are details on the cases:

• Police today discovered the body of Abdelmajid Isma’il Khalil, a 67-year-old freelance journalist for several local papers, according to the Journalistic Freedoms Observatory, an Iraqi press freedom organization. Khalil was abducted on October 18 by unidentified gunmen who intercepted his car in Baghdad’s eastern neighborhood of Jamila.

• Unidentified gunmen forcefully entered journalist Saed Mahdi Shlash’s home in Baghdad’s western neighborhood of al-Aamariyeh on October 26 and murdered him and his wife. Shlash was a reporter for Rayat al-Arab, a newspaper associated with the Movement of Arab Nationalists. Al-Aamariyah neighborhood is an insurgency stronghold where journalists are often targeted, CPJ research shows.

• On October 13, unidentified gunmen murdered Raed Qays, a journalist for the Aswat al-Iraq (Voices of Iraq) news agency, according to CPJ sources. Unidentified gunmen in a car blocked the journalist while he was driving and shot him to death in Baghdad’s northern neighborhood of Al-Dura, the Journalistic Freedoms Observatory reported, citing Aswat al-Iraq broadcasts. Qays’ sister, a passenger, was unharmed, the Observatory said. Qays, 28, also worked for Radio Al-Sumaria, part of the Iraqi satellite network Al-Sumaria, based in Beirut.

A statistical look at journalists killed in Iraq.

A statistical look at media support workers killed in Iraq: