Arkan Sharifi

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On the morning of October 30, 2017, eight masked men forced their way into the home of Arkan Sharifi, a cameraman for Kurdistan TV, and stabbed the journalist to death in front of his family in the city of Daquq in north central Iraq, his employer and other local media reported.

Sharifi had returned to Daquq four days before he was killed, having fled the area when the Iraqi-led Popular Mobilization Forces seized Daquq, according to Kurdistan TV. On October 20, the Iraqi Army and the Popular Mobilization Forces, an umbrella group consisting of mainly Shiite militias, retook Kirkuk and other disputed areas under de facto Kurdish control following a Kurdish independence referendum in northern Iraq that the Iraqi government said was unconstitutional.  

Halo Jabary, a Kurdistan TV reporter and Sharifi’s distant relative, told CPJ that the eight assailants, who were masked and wore military fatigues, stormed into Sharifi’s house and identified themselves as members of the Popular Mobilization Forces.

“They asked him if he worked as cameraman in the district of Daquq, He said that he did, but that he had never harmed anybody. The gunmen, who spoke Turkmen, took Sharifi’s wife and children to another room and locked them in,” Jabary said, recounting what a witness to the incident who wished to remain anonymous for safety reasons told him.

“The gunmen then stabbed Sharifi to death. His body had more than 40 stab wounds. The assailants subsequently went out and started firing their guns in front of the house to terrify the neighbors and prevent them from coming to help Arkan’s wife and children.”

Jabary said that the men allowed the wife and children out of the house at around 7 a.m. at which time neighbors and relatives moved Sharifi’s body to the morgue. 

Pictures widely shared on social media show the body lying in a pool of blood, with multiple stab wounds in the torso and a knife sticking out of the mouth.

Kurdistan TV, which is affiliated with the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), had been covering clashes between Kurdish Peshmerga forces and the Popular Mobilization Front in northeastern Iraq, as well as killings and kidnappings allegedly carreid out by the Popular Mobilization Front in Kirkuk. The Front denies allegations of human rights violations, according to news reports.

Sharifi, who was 54 years old, was married and had three children. He had worked as a cameraman for Kurdistan TV since 2004, and was also a village school’s head teacher.