New York, March 29, 2011—The Committee to Protect Journalists mourns the death of Sabah al-Bazi, a correspondent for Al-Arabiya and contributor to Reuters, CNN, and other international news outlets, who was killed today when gunmen wearing military uniforms seized control of a provincial government building in Tikrit.
Al-Bazi was covering a provincial council meeting when the assailants–using car bombs, explosive vests, and grenades–mounted an assault on the government building in Tikrit, capital of Saleheddin province, local and international news reported. Reuters put the death toll at more than 50, with dozens injured. A number of provincial council members were taken hostage, according to news reports. Security forces regained control of the building after a fierce shootout, news reports said.
“We extend our deepest condolences to Sabah al-Bazi’s family and his colleagues,” said Mohamed Abdel Dayem, CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa program coordinator. “We urge Iraqi authorities to do their utmost to bring the perpetrators of this crime to justice.”
Al-Bazi, 30, was a native of Saleheddin province and is survived by his wife and three children.
Iraq ranked first on CPJ’s 2010 Impunity Index, which lists countries where journalists are murdered on a recurring basis and governments are unable or unwilling to prosecute the killers.