Second TV anchor gunned down in two days in Iraq

New York, September 8, 2010–The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on Iraqi authorities to thoroughly investigate the murder of Safa al-Din Abdel Hamid, an Al-Mosuliya television presenter who was shot this morning in front of his Mosul home by gunmen firing from a speeding car, according to news accounts.

Abdel Hamid was the second Iraqi television anchor to be slain in as many days. Riad al-Saray, an anchor for Al-Iraqiya was gunned down in Baghdad on Tuesday.

“We extend our deep condolences to the family of Safa al-Din Abdel Hamid,” said Mohamed Abdel Dayem, CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa program coordinator. “That this is the second killing of a television presenter in two days sends a clear message to authorities that urgent action is needed.” 

Abdel Hamid, a father of six, was shot as he was leaving for work at about 8 a.m., his producer, Mohamed al-Malaki, told CPJ.

Abdel Hamid had worked less than a year at Al-Mosuliya, a private channel that broadcasts in northern Iraq. His program “Our Mosques,” detailed the history of historic religious sites in Mosul, al-Malaki said. The earlier victim this week, al-Saray, had also hosted programming that discussed religion.

Al-Malaki said he was unaware of any threats against Abdel Hamid. Al-Mosuliya is a private local channel that was launched in 2006. It covers Ninawa governorate in Northern Iraq.

While violence against the press has dropped in the past two years, attacks still occur, CPJ research shows. Reporter Sardasht Osman was found slain in Mosul in May, and three Al-Arabiya support workers were killed in a bombing in Baghdad in July.