Iraqi journalist gunned down in Baghdad

New York, March 14, 2008—The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the murder of an Iraqi journalist by at least one unknown gunman in Baghdad on Thursday.

Qassim Abdul Hussein al-Iqabi, 36, of the local daily Al-Muwatin (The Citizen) was shot dead in Baghdad’s predominantly Shiite Karradah neighborhood, according to local and international news reports.

“We offer our deepest condolences to Qassim Abdul Hussein al-Iqabi’s family and colleagues,” CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon said. “His death serves as a stark reminder of the dangers journalists face daily in Iraq and of the urgent need for their protection as they work to bring the news of the conflict to the world.”

The board of the daily Al-Muwatin is headed by Ibrahim Bahr Al-Uloom, former oil minister and a Shiite Member of parliament and “active supporter of the Iraqi government,” Iraqi journalists told CPJ.

The Iraqi Union of journalists, whose head, Shihab al-Tamimi, died on February 27 following a similar fatal attack in Baghdad, said in a public statement about al-Iqabi that “those who are targeting journalists are targeting Iraq and its future.” The IUJ also urged the Iraqi authorities to adopt its “plan to protect journalists likely to help them do their job and make it less risky.”

Al-Iqabi was not widely known among his colleagues and it is not yet clear why he was targeted. CPJ is investigating the reasons behind the murder.
At least 127 journalists and 50 media support staffers have been killed in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion in March 2003, making it the deadliest conflict for the press in CPJ’s 26-year history. About 90 percent of media deaths have been Iraqis.