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GIs Kill 2 Workers of U.S.-Funded Iraq TV

Associated Press | April 20 2004

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - U.S. troops shot to death two employees of U.S.-funded television station Al-Iraqiya on Monday and wounded a third in the central city of Samara, the station said.

Correspondent Asaad Kadhim and driver Hussein Saleh were killed. Cameraman Bassem Kamel was wounded ``after American forces opened fire on them while they were performing their duty,'' the station announced.

The station, which is funded by the Pentagon, interrupted its broadcasts to announce the deaths and showed photos of Kadhim. It then began airing only Koranic texts as a symbol of mourning.

The U.S. military had no immediate comment.

Thamir Ibrahim, an Al-Iraqiya editor, told The Associated Press he had no details on how the shooting occurred. But ``it was on the road leading to the city of Samara. Before they reached it, they were fired upon.''

They were taken to a Samara hospital, he said. ``We wanted to go (to them) now, but the road is closed, so we will go tomorrow.''

On March 18, U.S. troops shot dead correspondent Ali al-Khatib and cameraman Ali Abdel-Aziz of the Dubai-based Al-Arabiya news station.

Al-Khatib and Abdel-Aziz were shot near a U.S. military checkpoint while covering the aftermath of a rocket attack on the Burj al-Hayat hotel in Baghdad.

With the deaths of the two men, at least 24 Iraqi and foreign journalists and media workers have been killed during the Iraq war and its aftermath, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists Web site.

Al-Iraqiya, which is funded by the Pentagon, interrupted its broadcasts to announce the deaths and showed photos of Kadhim. It then began airing only Quranic verses as a symbol of mourning.

Thamir Ibrahim, an Al-Iraqiya editor, told The Associated Press he had no details on how the shooting occurred. But ``it was on the road leading to the city of Samarra. Before they reached it, they were fired upon.''

They were taken to a Samarra hospital, he said. ``We wanted to go (to them) now, but the road is closed, so we will go tomorrow.''

On March 18, U.S. troops shot dead correspondent Ali al-Khatib and cameraman Ali Abdel-Aziz of the Dubai-based Al-Arabiya news station.

Al-Khatib and Abdel-Aziz were shot near a U.S. military checkpoint while covering the aftermath of a rocket attack on the Burj al-Hayat hotel in Baghdad.

Al-Iraqiya began broadcasting on May 13, set up under a Defense Department contract. The Iraq Media Network, which runs Al-Iraqiya and two Baghdad radio station, was conceived during the State Department's war preparations.

The TV station gets exclusive interviews with coalition leaders and streams live broadcasts of speeches by L. Paul Bremer, the top U.S. official in Iraq. But most Iraqis continue to get their news from Arab satellite stations based abroad, like Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya.

Among the journalists who have been killed during the Iraq conflict is Reuters cameraman, Mazen Dana, shot by U.S. troops in August. The military ruled that the soldiers acted in accordance with ruled of engagement because they believed his camera was a rocket launcher, a conclusion Reuters disputed.

Another Reuters cameraman, Taras Protsyuk, and Spanish Telecinco cameraman Jose Couso were killed on April 8, 2003, when a U.S. tank fired at the Palestine Hotel where they were staying.