Kurdish fighters attack a building where militants were believed to be hiding in Kirkuk, October 21, 2016. (Reuters/Ako Rasheed)
Kurdish fighters attack a building where militants were believed to be hiding in Kirkuk, October 21, 2016. (Reuters/Ako Rasheed)

Iraqi journalist killed in Kirkuk fighting

New York, October 21, 2016 – An Iraqi journalist was killed today covering fighting between militants from the Islamic State group and Kurdish security forces, according to news reports. The killing came as at least seven journalists were injured in the past two days while covering the joint offensive to reclaim the city of Mosul from control of the Islamic State group.

Ahmet Haceroğlu of Türkmeneli TV was killed by a gunshot wound to the chest while covering fighting between Kurdish security forces and Islamic State militants in the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk, roughly 175 kilometers (108 miles) south of Mosul, a police colonel in Kirkuk told Agence-France Presse. The journalist’s news outlet and police said the shot was fired by a sniper from the Islamic State group.

The station identified Haceroğlu as a manager from the satellite channel’s news division. A Türkmeneli TV employee, responding to CPJ’s inquiries via the station’s Facebook account, confirmed Haceroğlu died while covering fighting that erupted this morning when Islamic State militants launched a series of attacks in Kirkuk. The employee did not identify himself or immediately respond to additional questions. The head of correspondents for the station, Sami Beirakdar, told the website Al-Sumaria News that Haceroğlu was killed while attempting to return home from assignment.

“Ahmet Haceroğlu’s death covering fighting in Kirkuk is a signpost that the mortal danger journalists face in Iraq will be compounded as the long-running conflict intensifies,” said Jason Stern, CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa senior research associate. “We call on all sides to take all possible measures to protect journalists on the battlefield.”

Türkmeneli TV is headquartered in Kirkuk, home to many of Iraq’s Turkmen minority. Early this morning, the city came under attack by militants from the Islamic State group. Kurdish security forces continue to attempt to clear the city of the militants, The Associated Press reported.

At least seven journalists have been injured covering the Mosul offensive, according to their respective news outlets. Khaled Abdul Salam, an editor for the Kurdish-language Zakros TV, told CPJ today the station’s correspondent Bashtiwan Hussein was hit in the left shoulder by sniper fire. He is in stable condition. Forat TV’s Ahmed al-Zaidi was injured in the leg by mortar fire, the Iraqi station reported yesterday. He continued reporting after receiving treatment. The Kurdish-language Waar TV reported that its cameraman Rasti Khaled and correspondent Aryan Barwari were lightly injured by a makeshift bomb yesterday as well. New York Times photographer Bryan Denton suffered minor cuts and bruises after a vehicle bomb targeted Iraqi forces yesterday, the paper reported.

The Iraqi Observatory for Journalistic Freedoms reported that two journalists for the Kurdish-language Speda TV channel, correspondent Yasser Abdul Rahman and cameraman Hajr al-Barwari, were also injured yesterday. The station posted on its Facebook page yesterday a picture of the two journalists in the hospital with cuts and bruises. Neither the Iraqi Observatory for Journalistic Freedoms nor Speda TV specified how the journalists were injured.