Pakistan TV camera operator dies in helicopter crash

New York, October 9, 2007—The Committee to Protect Journalists mourns the death of Pakistan TV camera operator Mohammed Farooq, who died Monday when the helicopter in which he was riding crashed near Mujhoi village, 12 miles (20 kilometers) south of Muzaffarabad.

Farooq was riding in a convoy of three helicopters taking Musharraf to a ceremony marking the second anniversary of an earthquake that killed a reported 80,000 people.

An Army spokesman said Musharraf had reached his destination when one of the two accompanying helicopters crashed. The Army said the crash was due to a mechanical malfunction, and there was no indication that the helicopter had been fired on. The Associated Press quoted eyewitnesses as saying several passengers jumped from the helicopter before it hit the ground and exploded into flames.

“We are saddened by the news, and join Mohammed Farooq’s family and colleagues in mourning his death. Journalists know that there is always risk in covering the news, and Mohammed’s life ended in pursuing his work despite those risks,” said Joel Simon, CPJ’s executive director.