Za’al, 35, a correspondent for Baghdad TV, was shot during clashes
between U.S. forces and Sunni rebels in Ramadi, an insurgent stronghold
70 miles (110 kilometers) west of Baghdad.
Reuters quoted witnesses as saying Za’al was covering an insurgent
attack on two U.S.-held buildings when he was wounded in the legs and
then killed moments later in a U.S. air strike. The U.S. military
denied it had launched an air strike in Ramadi that day and declined
comment on the clashes or Za’al’s death, the agency reported.
Staff at Baghdad TV told CPJ that U.S. soldiers briefly questioned Za’al 15 minutes before he was shot.
Staff said several of the station’s correspondents had been detained by
U.S. troops in the preceding few months. Baghdad TV is owned by the
Iraqi Islamic Party, the biggest Sunni political group. Za’al had
worked for the station for one year.
In another case involving combat reporting in Ramadi, Dhia Najim, a
freelance cameraman working for Reuters, was shot in the head by a U.S.
sniper on November 1, 2004, according to his colleagues.