The shooting deaths of two journalists from Polish
public television TVP (photo) bring to at least 25 the
number of journalists and media assistants killed in
Iraq since March 2003. Reporters Without Borders calls
on all parties to respect the safety of journalists
covering the conflict.
Two journalists working for Polish public
television TVP, Polish national Waldemar Milewicz
(photo) and Polish-Algerian Munir Buamran, were shot
and killed on 7 May in Latifiya, south of Baghdad.
Polish cameraman Jerzy Ernst, was reportedly taken to
hospital after being hit in the arm.
"These latest deaths brings to at
least 25 the toll of journalists and media assistants
killed in Iraq since the start of the war in March
2003. This shocking statistic means Iraq is now one of
the world's most dangerous places for journalists,"
said Reporters Without Borders.
"Twelve journalists and media
assistants have been killed since 1st January 2004,
ten Iraqis and two foreigners. The TVP reporters are
the first foreign journalists to be killed in the
country in 2004."
"We call on all parties to the
conflict to respect the status of journalist as
protected civilians under Article 79 of the first
additional protocol to the Geneva Conventions," said
the international press freedom organisation.
"Iraqi and foreign journalists are
exposed to a whole range of risks. Since the start of
the war they have been the target of bandits and
thieves as well as groups of combatants who have
targeted Iraqi journalists working with the
"American shooting also caused the
death of at least six reporters, after which the
Pentagon failed to order any impartial and rigorous
investigations," said Reporters Without Borders. At
least six journalists - three Czech, two Japanese and
one French - have been taken hostage and released in
2004. Working in such dangerous conditions clearly
severely limits the ability of journalists to provide
the public with news," it said.
A team of three TVP journalists,
reporter Waldemar Milewicz, picture editor Munir
Buamran and cameraman Jerzy Ernst, were ambushed as
they travelled in a black Japanese-made car some 30 km
south of the Iraqi capital. They were in the same area
in which guerrilla forces have set several previous
ambushes, in one incident killing seven Spanish
intelligence agents last November.
An Iraqi fixer with the TV crew, Assir
Kamel Al-Kazzaz told AFP what happened : "A car came
up behind us and its occupants opened fire, killing
the Polish journalist," he said. "We stopped and I got
out with the Algerian journalist and the Polish
cameraman but the car turned around and they opened
fire again killing the Algerian journalist and
injuring the Polish one."
Waldemar Milewicz, 48, was a leading
journalist with TPV, and had reported on conflicts in
the Balkans, Cambodia, Rwanda and Chechnya. He
received a number of awards for his work and in 2001
was voted Poland's Journalist of the Year. The crew
had left Warsaw on 5 May.