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, executed 11 people, and wounded two others. It was the deadliest single assault on the press in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion in March 2003. Five of the victims were journalists: Hussein Ali, Abdul-Rahim Nasrallah al-Shimari, Noufel al-Shimari, Thaker al-Shouwili, and Ahmad Sha’ban.
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 preceding election but failed to win any seats.
Al-Shaabiya had not yet gone on the air and had run only 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
Kamil said some of the gunmen wore police uniforms, and all were
masked. News reports said 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 by first names only: Maher, Ahmad and
Hassan. The station’s generator operator, whose name was not available,
was also killed. A source at Al-Shaabiya confirmed the names.
Program Manager Mushtak al-Ma’mouri and news chief Muhammad Kathem were hospitalized with multiple gunshot wounds.