Almigdad Mojalli, a Yemeni freelance journalist, was killed by a Saudi-led coalition airstrike outside the capital of Sanaa on the morning of January 17, 2016, while on assignment for Voice of America, the outlet reported.
Mojalli reported for Voice of America, the international humanitarian news network IRIN, The Telegraph, and others on the devastating humanitarian toll that the conflict in Yemen has taken upon ordinary civilians. Mojalli, 34, also frequently assisted international journalists in covering the conflict as a fixer and source of information. According to IRIN, Mojalli considered fleeing Yemen multiple times but decided to stay to continue his work documenting the conflict. More than 5,800 people died in the fighting since the start of the conflict in March 2015 and Mojalli’s death, according to the Associated Press.
Bahir al-Sharabi, a Yemeni journalist working for the Yemen Digital Media production company, told CPJ he traveled with Mojalli on the morning of January 17 along with a driver and a local resident to cover the effects of recent Saudi-led airstrikes in the Hamam Jarif area, about 25 miles south of the capital, Sanaa. According to The New York Times, at least 15 civilians had been killed in airstrikes there the previous week.
Al-Sharabi told CPJ that they arrived to the scene around 9 a.m. After about 15 or 20 minutes, they were unexpectedly caught in a Saudi-led coalition airstrike. An explosion knocked Al-Sharabi unconscious. When he came to his senses, Al-Sharabi said, he found Mojalli seriously injured nearby. Al-Sharabi and others, many of them injured themselves, loaded their colleague into the car and tried to find medical assistance, but Mojalli died before they could find help.
Al-Sharabi, who suffered light injuries, told CPJ he did not think he and Mojalli were directly targeted by the Saudi coalition airstrikes, and he was not sure if there were any military targets in the area when the airstrike hit. He said their car was not marked as a press vehicle, and nothing on their clothing identified them as press.
Mohammed al-Asaadi, a communications specialist with UNICEF, told CPJ Mojalli had been scheduled to interview a UNICEF official that afternoon about the impact of the conflict on the education system in the country. Al-Asaadi said Mojalli’s work “informed the world about the forgotten people” in Yemen, adding he worked as a fixer for a UNICEF film about marginalized communities in the country. Al-Asaadi, who is also the former editor-in-chief of the English-language Yemen Observer, also said Mojalli had previously worked for the newspaper.
At the time of Mojalli’s death, at least four other journalists had been killed in airstrikes by the Saudi-led coalition since its military campaign against Ansar Allah, also known as the Houthis, and their allies began in the spring of 2015, according to CPJ research.
In 2015, Mojalli told CPJ he was facing increased harassment from Ansar Allah and that he feared the group would detain him in retaliation for his reporting.