Smoke rises from the Iraqi Kurdistan headquarters of the Kurdistan Freedom Party (PAK), after Iran's Revolutionary Guards' strike on the outskirts of Kirkuk, Iraq, on September 28, 2022. Soran Kamaran, Kurdistan 24 correspondent, was injured on September 28. He had been reporting at the headquarters and covering Iran's ongoing shelling on Kurdish groups opposed to Iran. (Reuters/Ako Rasheed)

Kurdistan 24 reporter ‘wounded severely’ in Iran’s shelling in Iraqi Kurdistan

Beirut, September 28, 2022—Iran should immediately investigate whether journalists are being targeted by Iranian forces after a journalist in Iraqi Kurdistan was injured during Iranian strikes on the region, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Wednesday.

On Wednesday, September 28, 2022, Soran Kamaran, a correspondent for the Kurdistan 24 broadcaster owned by Kurdish Prime Minister Masrour Barzani, was seriously wounded while covering Iran’s ongoing shelling on Kurdish groups opposed to Iran, according to reports, video of the shelling and Kamaran’s transfer to the hospital, a statement by the broadcaster, a local press freedom group, and Kurdistan 24’s newsroom manager.

Kamaran was injured by a missile strike in the town of Altun Kupri, in Kirkuk, northern Iraq. The cameraman with him was not hurt, Kurdistan 24’s newsroom manager and anchor, Kovan Izzat, told CPJ by phone. 

Kurdistan 24 said in a statement that Kamaran was taken to Erbil emergency hospital for treatment and admitted to an intensive care unit. “Soran underwent two surgeries for his right leg and belly. He is fine now and no threat to his life,” Izzat told CPJ. “He was wounded severely, his right leg was broken with injuries all over his belly.” Izzat did not know how long Kamaran is expected to be in the hospital.

“Iran’s drone strikes inevitably cause civilian casualties, including those of journalists documenting the attacks,” said Sherif Mansour, CPJ Middle East and North Africa program coordinator. “Iranian and Kurdish authorities must take serious measures to avoid harming civilians and to hold anyone violating international law accountable.”

Kamaran’s last video, posted on his Facebook page on Wednesday, September 28, shows him reporting from the area in which he was injured. In the video, he says, “This is the headquarters of the Kurdistan Freedom Party, which have been targeted by Iranian missiles and suicide drones. Initial reports indicate that six members were killed and dozens injured.”

On Saturday, September 24, 2022, Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps began shelling to strike several Iranian-Kurdish opposition parties based in the Kurdistan region, killing at least nine and injuring over 30 others, according to multiple media reports.

On Wednesday, September 28, the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq called to “cease immediately” its attacks on Iraq, including Kurdistan, in a tweet.

CPJ could not immediately find a contact for Kamaran’s family. CPJ emailed the Iranian U.N. mission for comment on Wednesday, September 28, but did not immediately receive a response.

Later on Wednesday, in the same town of Altun Kupri, a Peshmerga soldier confiscated the camera of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK)-owned Kurdsat News broadcaster cameraman Issa Nuradeen, according to Nuradeen, a Facebook video of the incident posted by the broadcaster, and a report by a local press freedom group.

Nuradeen and Kurdsat News reporter Karwan Mohammed told CPJ over the phone that they returned to the Kurdistan Freedom Party headquarters to help Kamaran. “When we got there, the (Kurdish) Peshmerga forces were putting him into an ambulance. I tried to film but they blocked me and took my camera,” Nuradeen said. “They later returned it broken.”

Mohammed, who filmed the camera confiscation on his mobile phone, said the Peshmerga soldier who took the camera “told us we are not allowed to cover the situation.”

CPJ on Wednesday, September 28, called Nuri Hama Ali, a Peshmerga commander in Kirkuk, for comment, but did not immediately get a response.

Editor’s note: The description of the shelling on Saturday, September 24, 2022, has been corrected in the seventh paragraph.