Mohammed Thabet al-Obeidi

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Unknown assailants in a car on December 6, 2016, fatally shot Mohammed Thabet Shehaza, better known as Mohamed al-Obeidi, as he left the downtown Kirkuk office of Radio Baba Gurgur, the radio station he managed in the northern Iraqi city. He was 53.

The Journalistic Freedoms Observatory (JFO), an Iraqi press freedom group, cited unnamed officials from the government’s Iraqi Media Network, Radio Baba Gurgur parent organization, as saying the men were in a white Toyota Corolla, and that they sprayed al-Obeidi and his colleague, Abbas Ibrahim, with automatic weapon fire, killing al-Obeidi immediately. According to JFO, Ibrahim survived. A Kirkuk police colonel confirmed that account to Agence France-Presse.

Witnesses and family members told the local press freedom group Metro Center for Press Freedom that al-Obeidi was shot in the head and in the shoulder. Family members told the group that, to their knowledge, the journalist did not have enemies.

Ziad Ajili, the head of the Journalistic Freedoms Observatory, told AFP that al-Obeidi’s killing might have been politically motivated, but did not elaborate.

Police told the news website Al-Mada Press that police recovered the body, sent it to the local morgue, and that they would conduct an investigation into the murder.

Radio Baba Gurgur broadcasts in Arabic, Kurdish, and Turkmen. Al-Obeidi was survived by his wife and three children.