Cameraman killed in explosion in Iraq

New York, October 21, 2009—The Committee to Protect Journalists mourns the death of an Al-Rasheed television cameraman killed by an explosion in front of his home in Kirkuk today.

Orhan Hijran, an 18-year-old cameraman with the Baghdad-based independent al-Rasheed satellite channel, was killed when a bomb exploded in front of his house in Al-Khadhrah neighborhood, in southwestern Kirkuk, Bureau Chief Jawdat Assaf told CPJ.

The bomb exploded at around 1:30 p.m. as Hijran and Mohammed Abdullah Zadeh, a correspondent with the Cairo-based Al-Baghdadia, were returning home from an assignment. Abdullah Zadeh was slightly injured and discharged from the hospital in the late afternoon. “He has been traumatized since the attack because he carried [Hijran] to the hospital,” Assaf said.

“We are saddened by the death of Orhan Hijran and send our deepest condolences to his family and colleagues,” said Mohamed Abdel Dayem, CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa program coordinator. “We call on the authorities to thoroughly investigate the incident and bring to justice those responsible.”

Assaf said he did not know whether Hijran was targeted: “The station is not a political channel, it covers entertainment, culture, and art,” he said. CPJ is investigating whether Hirjan was killed because of his work. The channel was launched in January.

Local journalists told CPJ that the southwestern area of Kirkuk, a road frequently travelled by the U.S. military, has often been hit with roadside bombs. Assaf said that the area where Hijran was killed houses a police checkpoint and has been the target of more than a dozen roadside bombs in the past few months.

At least 140 journalists have been killed in Iraq since the U.S. invasion of March 2003; five of them died in Kirkuk, CPJ research shows.