Masked gunmen in at least five vehicles drove up to the fledgling satellite TV
channel Al-Shaabiya in the eastern district of Zayouna around 7 a.m., burst into
the offices and executed 11 people in cold blood and wounded two. It was the
deadliest single assault on the press in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion in
Al-Shaabiya is owned by the National Justice and Progress Party, headed by
Abdul-Rahim Nasrallah al-Shimari who was killed in the attack, according to
Reuters and CPJ sources. The small party ran in the last election but failed to
win any seats. Al-Shaabiya had not yet gone on the air and had only run test
transmissions. Executive manager Hassan Kamil told Reuters that the station had
no political agenda and that the staff had been a mix of Sunnis, Shiites, and
Kurds. The station had not been threatened previously. According to news
reports, the channel still aims to launch after the end of the Muslim month of
Ramadan in late October.
Kamil said some of the gunmen wore police uniforms, and all were masked.
According to news reports the gunmen’s cars resembled police vehicles.
A local press freedom group, The Journalistic Freedoms Observatory, named the
dead as chairman and general manager Abdul-Rahim Nasrallah al-Shimari and his
bodyguard, Ali Jabber; deputy general manager Noufel al-Shimari; presenters
Thaker al-Shouwili and Ahmad Sha’ban; administrative manager Sami Nasrallah
al-Shimari; video mixer Hussein Ali; and three guards identified only by their
first names: Maher, Ahmad and Hassan. The station’s generator operator, whose
name was not available, was also killed. A source at Al-Shaabiya confirmed the
Program manager Mushtak al-Ma’mouri and news chief Muhammad Kathem were taken
to the hospital with multiple gunshot wounds. They were in critical condition,
according to CPJ sources.