Iraqi TV journalist gunned down in Mosul

New York, November 13, 2006—The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the brutal murder of an Iraqi journalist in Mosul today. Unidentified gunmen shot Muhammad al-Ban, 58, a reporter and cameraman for the privately owned Al-Sharqiya TV, as he was leaving his home in Mosul’s al-Nour neighborhood at around 8 a.m., according to CPJ sources.

The gunmen used a Russian-made BKC machine gun mounted on the back of a pickup truck, a standard weapon used by Iraqi police and security, a CPJ source said. Four men then got out of the vehicle and shot several more times, the source said. Al-Ban’s wife was also wounded in the attack, The Associated Press reported.

CPJ is investigating the circumstances of the killing to determine whether it was directly related to al-Ban’s work.

“The Iraqi press corps has suffered greater losses than any in our memory, even as they continue to serve the Iraqi public every day. We mourn the loss of our colleague, Muhammad al-Ban, and demand that Iraqi authorities seek an end to this senseless violence,” CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon said.

Al-Ban worked for three years at Al-Sharqiya and was well-known as an experienced journalist, according to a CPJ source. He had also been deputy editor of the leading local daily Al-Masar but resigned seven months ago to focus on his work for Al-Sharqiya. Al-Sharqiya is owned by the London-based Azzaman Group, which also publishes the Iraqi daily Azzaman.

Al-Ban is the second journalist working for Al-Sharqiya killed in the past 10 days. Ahmad al-Rashid, 28, a correspondent, was shot in north Baghdad’s Al-Aathamiya neighborhood on November 3, according to CPJ sources. Al-Rashid, who began working for Al-Sharqiya three months ago, was visiting family when he was stopped by gunmen, asked to exit his car, and shot in front of witnesses, CPJ sources said. CPJ is investigating the circumstances behind his murder as well.

At least 11 journalists have been killed in the northern city of Mosul, according to CPJ research. In all, 86 journalists and 37 media support workers have been killed in direct relation to their work in Iraq since the war began on March 20, 2003, making it the deadliest conflict in CPJ’s 25-year history.