New York, July 26, 2010--The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns a suicide attack on Al-Arabiya's bureau in Baghdad. The attack killed three of the satellite news channel's support staff, according to Tareq Maher, an Al-Arabiya journalist who was inside the building during the blast.
on air after the explosion that a suicide bomber had detonated a vehicle in
front of the bureau at 9:25 a.m., leaving a massive crater. "The bureau is
completely ruined, there is no room left that is not destroyed," he said by
audio feed as the station ran a still photo of him. Three employees were killed--two security guards and a cleaning woman. Sixteen other
people were wounded, according to the news channel's website. Al-Arabiya
reported that the site was immediately surrounded by security forces following
security spokesman Major General Qassim Atta al-Moussawi told
Agence France-Presse that these are "the methods of al-Qaeda." The New
York Times reported that
Al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia took credit today for
the bombing, "suggesting the attack was in response to a broadcast about the
influence of the group." The Times
quoted a statement from the group's website as saying, "Wait for more."
The head of the army's explosives unit, Major
General Jihad al-Jaabari told Al-Arabiya that the car was carrying about 282
pounds (128 kilograms) of ammonium nitrate.
attack on Al-Arabiya's offices is a reminder that journalists in Iraq continue to operate in a very dangerous environment,"
said Mohamed Abdel Dayem, the Middle East and
North Africa Coordinator. "We call on the Iraqi authorities to investigate this
crime and hold the perpetrators to account."
the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, 141 journalists have been killed
according to CPJ research.
has suffered multiple assaults since it opened its Baghdad bureau in September 2003. On June 25,
the broadcaster shut down its Baghdad
office after receiving an anonymous tip that there were plans to attack the
office. It re-opened shortly after. Atwar Bahjat, an Al-Arabiya correspondent
and a 2006 CPJ International Press Freedom awardee, was murdered near Samarra in
February 2006, along with her crew, cameraman Khaled Mahmoud al-Falahi and
engineer Adnan Khairallah. In 2008, the news channel's Baghdad bureau chief, Jawad Hattab, escaped a
car bomb attack. In 2004 three journalists from Al-Arabiya--Ali al-Khatib, Ali
Abdel Aziz, Mazen
al-Tumeizi--were killed by American fire.
Editor's note: The original text of this alert has been modified in the first two paragraphs to correct the number of staff fatalities. Initial news reports said three staffers were killed, but subsequent research by CPJ found that three had been killed.