Al-Azzawi, news anchor for the local Salaheddin TV station,
was one of five staff members killed when armed militants attacked the
channel’s headquarters in Tikrit, according to an executive at the station who
did not want to be named for security reasons.
The other victims were the newsroom director, Raad Yassin
Al-Baddi; video editor Jamal Abdul-Nasser Sami; Arabic language expert Ahmed
Khattab Omar; and archives director Mohammed Abdul-Hameed.
The state-owned Iraqiya TV channel is located in the same
compound, but all of its journalists managed to escape to safety.
reports cited a post on jihadi media forums in which the Al-Qaeda affiliate
Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (ISIS) purportedly declared responsibility for
the attack. The statement accused Salaheddin of distorting the facts and
warring against the Sunni people. It also called the Iraqiya channel “Safavid,”
a sectarian remark which equates the channel with Shia Iran. Survivors of the
attack told the local press
freedom group the Society for the Defense of Press Freedom in Iraq (SDPFIQ) that
the assailants were ISIS members.
There were conflicting reports
on how many assailants
attacked the building. Most reports
were consistent, however, in saying the attack began with a bomb outside the
building, with gunmen wearing suicide belts then rushing inside and taking the
staff hostage. After several hours, Iraqi security forces managed to retake the
building, but only after some of the assailants detonated their belts. The rest
of the gunmen were killed by security forces. It is not clear if the victims
died from the explosions, from direct fire from the gunmen, or in the
There were also conflicting reports on the number of injured
staff after the assault. The Iraq Journalists Syndicated reported
that eight staff members had been wounded, but did not offer further details.
SDPFIQ reported that two cameramen, Ahmed Ibrahim and Ali Ghalib, had been
CNN reported that in the wake of the attack, the channel
until further notice, and the channel’s live feed on its website was not
working when accessed by CPJ in the days after the attack.
Militant groups ISIS have historically targeted journalists
whom it considers collaborators with the Iraqi government, according to CPJ