New York, April 9, 2012–Syrian security forces shot and killed a Lebanese cameraman today as he was working in the northern Lebanese town of Wadi Khaled near the Syrian border, according to the journalist’s employer and news reports citing Lebanese officials. The cross-border death comes on the same day that Syrian security forces fired shots into a refugee camp near the Turkish border, injuring several people, news reports said.
Ali Shaaban, a cameraman for the Beirut-based television station Al-Jadeed, was struck in the chest while sitting inside a station vehicle, his employer said in a statement. The broadcaster said Syrian security forces had fired from the Syrian border town of Armouta.
“We offer our deep condolences to the family and colleagues of Ali Shaaban,” said Joel Simon, CPJ’s executive director. “The situation is taking yet another dangerous turn as the violence spills beyond Syria’s borders, and journalists working in neighboring nations are placed at risk.”
Shaaban, Al-Jadeed reporter Hussein Khreis, and station cameraman Abdel-Azim Khayat were reporting on border security issues, according to the broadcaster. Khreis told Al-Jadeed in an interview that the team had been filming from the Lebanese side of the border when plainclothes Syrian security forces across the border directed them to retreat. The shooting began as Shaaban and Khayat got into a station car, Khreis said, while he remained outside the vehicle to finish writing his story.
In the interview, Khreis described a lengthy onslaught of gunfire from Syrian forces. The Associated Press, citing Al-Jadeed, said more than 40 shots were fired in all, leaving the station’s vehicle riddled with bullet holes. Khreis said the sustained gunfire delayed medical care for his colleague. Khayat and Khreis were not injured.
Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati said on his Twitter account that he had asked the Lebanese Army to investigate the attack. Al-Jadeed quoted Syrian state media as saying the TV crew was attacked because a Syrian border guard had come “under fire by armed terrorist groups” in Lebanon.
In the Turkish cross-border shooting, AP cited human rights activists as saying that Syrian soldiers were firing at rebels who tried to escape into the refugee camp.
CPJ research shows that at least eight local and international journalists have been killed on duty in Syria since November, at least five in circumstances that raise questions about government culpability, making it the most dangerous place for journalists in the world.