Journalist's death caught on film

Minutes after this photograph was taken in Baghdad, an Arab journalist was fatally wounded on Sunday, writes Wale Azeez.

Now Reuters has offered the US Military access to its extraordinary footage of the confrontation between US forces and Iraqis that preceeded the death of Al Arabiya television reporter and producer Mazen Tomeizi, to help any investigation into the incident.

Reuters Video News cameraman Seif Fouad, caught the incident on camera, was also wounded after a US Army helicopter gunship fired into a crowd of Iraqis cheering around an American vehicle set alight during fighting last weekend, the news agency said.

Reuters’ global managing editor David Schlesinger also voiced “extreme concern” at the journalists’ fate and extended Reuters’ sympathies to Tomeizi’s family.

His death brings to 52 the number of media workers killed in Iraq since last year’s US-led invasion.

 

Tomeizi staggers after being hit (inset): moments later he lay dead

This is the moment when Guardian journalist Ghaith Abdul-Ahad captured on camera the death of reporter Mezan Tomeizi while under fire from US gunships.

Abdul-Ahad was also injured in the incident on Sunday in which he said 13 Iraqis were killed after two helicopters opened fire on an unarmed crowd.

The Guardian writer described his escape in the paper on Tuesday.

He said 12 men formed a circle around five injured people following the first helicopter attack but fled minutes later when the helicopters returned. He said he was forced to hide with six others behind a concrete block used as a cigarette stall and later realised he was the only one from the make-shift shelter to have survived.

He said: “The helicopters wheeled overhead and I realised they were firing directly at us. I wanted to be invisible, I wanted to hide under the others.”

Abdul-Ahad is an Iraqi journalist who regularly writes features and news reports for the Guardian. He suffered only a head-wound in the attack.

Abdul-Ahad did not realise he had captured the last moments of his colleague until the following day when another photographer pointed it out.

Tomeizi, 26, was working for Dubaibased Arab news station Al Arabiya when he was killed.

The International Federation of Journalists has called for an official inquiry into the incident and the International News Safety Institute has questioned why al-Tumeizi was not wearing a flak jacket.

IFJ General secretary Aidan White said: “We need a detailed, independent inquiry and answers to hard questions into this and every other case where our colleagues have been killed. So far there has been a series of whitewash reports in which soldiers have cleared themselves of any responsibility. It is wholly unacceptable.”

According to the IFJ, the US military said the helicopters opened fire after coming under attack from the crowd but television footage of the incident showed no evidence of shooting from the ground.

Rodney Pinder from INSI said: “We are concerned that the journalist wasn’t wearing any kind of protection. But that doesn’t excuse the American military firing in an area where there are lots of civilians around.”

 

By Dominic Ponsford

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