New York, March 18, 2011–One journalist was fatally shot and another wounded in Sana’s today when Yemeni security forces used live ammunition to disperse demonstrators from a central protest area, killing dozens of people. The death of photographer Jamal al-Sharaabi is the first confirmed media fatality in Yemen since political unrest began in January, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
Al-Sharaabi, a photojournalist for the independent weekly Al-Masdar, was among 44 individuals killed by security forces who opened fire on a demonstration against President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s 33-year-long rule, local media and the Yemeni Journalists’ Syndicate (YJS) reported. Most of the victims were shot in the head or the neck, according to local media. New accounts described at least some of the gunmen as snipers.
Several hundred more civilians were wounded by security forces’ fire at the demonstration site in a square outside the main entrance to Sana’a University, news reports said. Among them was a photojournalist, working for the BBC Arabic service, who was shot in the shoulder, the BBC reported. The photojournalist was not identified by name.
“We extend our condolences to the family and colleagues of Jamal al-Sharaabi, who was killed today as he performed his professional duties,” said Mohamed Abdel Dayem, CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa program coordinator. “This killing comes on the heels of many weeks of increasingly hostile rhetoric and violent reprisals against independent and critical media.”
The Yemeni Journalists’ Syndicate has documented more than 50 separate attacks on journalists since political unrest began in January. The attacks include abductions, assaults, confiscation of equipment, and threats of violence against journalists and their families.