Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Conflict Takes Heavy Toll On Journalists


In what has been a grave four days for the profession, journalists in at least three hotspots – Afghanistan, Syria and Ukraine’s Crimea – have come in harm’s way.

On Tuesday, Swedish journalist Nils Horner was shot dead in Kabul. Canadian freelance photographer Ali Mustafa was killed by a barrel bomb in Aleppo on Sunday, while on Saturday, Abdul Qadar, a cameraman working for Beirut-based Al-Mayadeen TV station was shot dead while covering clashes between Syrian forces and rebels in Deir Al-Zour.
Meanwhile on Sunday, Ukrainian journalist Olena Maksymenko of Ukrainsky Tizhden and freelance photographer Oles Kromplyas went missing on the Crimean border.


Horner’s death was confirmed by the Swedish embassy in Kabul reported Associated Press. AP quoted Gul Agha Hashinmi, head of Kabul’s Criminal Investigation Department saying two suspects had been nabbed over the shooting that had taken place in an affluent quarter of Afghanistan’s capital. Horner who worked for Swedish Radio had died on admission to hospital.

Ali Mustapha was killed by a barrel bomb (a crude explosive device usually dropped by helicopters or low-flying aircraft on heavily populated areas) while he was photographing the destruction caused by another bomb in which seven people died. The incident occurred in Aleppo’s Al-Hadariyeh District, said the Paris-based Reporters without Borders (RWB/RSF).

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said Al-Mayadeen for which Qadar worked is a pro-Syrian government outfit and the cameraman was hit in the neck by a sniper. CPJ said his body was shown by pro-government news outlets being carried by government personnel.

“The deaths of Omar Abdul Qader and Ali Mostafa are a tragic reminder that Syria remains the most dangerous country in the world,” said CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa program coordinator, Sherif Mansour. “Even as players in the conflict change their positions, and the balance of power shifts, one thing remains constant: Journalists face a myriad of dangers in Syria.”

In Crimea, Maksymenko disappeared with two other activists Kateryna Butko and Aleksandra Ryazantseva. RSF said all three supported of the new government in Kiev. They had set off from Kherson in southern Ukraine by car to Crimea and last seen at the checkpoint in Perekop on Sunday at 4.00 p.m. RSF said they were identified by Oleksiy Byk a journalist with Glavkom kneeling with their hands tied before being taken away. Byk said Maksymenko was wearing a press badge.

This was only prelude Byk’s own ordeal as he with photographer Oles Kromplyas and their driver Yevhen Rakhno were also arrested. Their car was searched by men wearing uniforms without insignia and cameras thrown to the ground. Byk was released because his brother arrived at scene and vouched that he was a Crimean resident, but nothing has been heard of Rakhno and Kromplyas since.

“The forces controlling the Crimea are responsible for the fate of these journalists,” RSF’s secretary-general Christophe Deloire said. “We demand that they provide immediate information about their location and state of health, and that they release them without delay.”

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