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Fifteen journalists die while covering war in Iraq

From the Spring 2003 issue of The News Media & The Law, page 7.

From the Spring 2003 issue of The News Media & The Law, page 7.

By April Thorn

As of May 9, 126 U.S. military personnel had died in Iraq out of a total of about 250,000 troops, according to Pentagon figures. Compared to previous wars, the loss to the military is remarkably low — less than 0.1 percent.

Proportionally, the loss to the media was greater. As of early May, 15 journalists had died out of an estimated 1,000 embedded and independent journalists covering the war. According to The Seattle Times, the death rate among journalists was 1.3 percent.

The first death among U.S. journalists and among the more than 500 embedded correspondent’s was Washington Post columnist and Atlantic Monthly editor Michael Kelly.

The most recent incident was the May 9 death of Boston Globe reporter Elizabeth Neuffer in an automobile accident.

Two additional journalists from British television network ITN — Fred Nerac, a French cameraman and Hussein Osman, a translator from Lebanon — have been missing since late March.

Nine journalists covering the U.S.-led war were killed in action during the first three weeks of the conflict, victims of Iraqi or U.S. fire, land mines or suicide bombers. Five other journalists died in accidents or from illness. Several more were wounded.

The Committee to Protect Journalists reported that U.S. or Iraqi forces inside Iraq temporarily detained more than 24 journalists and escorted others out of Iraq. Safety issues remain for those covering the aftermath of the war. Banditry, gunfire and physical attacks will likely make Iraq a dangerous assignment for the foreseeable future, CPJ said. It rated Iraq number one in its report, “The World’s Worst Places to be a Journalist.”

What follows is a list of those journalists killed in Iraq from March 22 to May 9.

March 22: Terry Lloyd (ITN, U.K.)

Lloyd, 50, a news correspondent for ITV News, produced by ITN, was missing after coming under fire on the southern Iraq front as he and three colleagues were driving towards Basra. The team apparently was caught in crossfire between Iraqi and coalition troops. Iraqi ambulances took a number of dead and injured from the area into the city. Confirmation later came that Lloyd’s body was found at Basra Hospital.

Lloyd was ITN’s longest-serving correspondent and is the first ITN journalist killed in the organization’s 48-year history. He had been selected to lead a “unilateral”team — reporters working independently of the military — to cover the U.S. and British advance on Basra.

March 22: Paul Moran (ABC, Australia)

Moran, 39, a cameraman for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, was killed in a suicide car bombing. The bombing has been blamed on an al-Qaida-related group based in a remote area of Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq.

Moran was waiting at a checkpoint leading into the small village of Khormal, near the town of Halabja, when he saw Kurdish militia frantically running the opposite direction. According to The Australian, he walked towards the soldiers to film the incident as a white Toyota taxi drove towards him from the direction of Khormal. The driver apparently gestured for Moran to come closer and then stopped the car beside him. The bomb killed Moran and the driver instantly as another colleague and nine Kurds were injured.

Moran, based in Paris, was a freelance cameraman contracted by the ABC to work with his team in northern Iraq.

March 30: Gaby Rado (ITN, U.K.)

Rado, 48, a foreign affairs correspondent for Channel 4 News of London, fell from the roof of the Abu Sanaa Hotel in Suleimaniya, in northern Iraq. His death is not believed to be connected to the military action in the country.

Rado suffered serious head injuries as a result of the fall onto the hotel parking lot. He was pronounced dead upon arrival at a local hospital. According to ITN, the Suleimaniya police are investigating the incident. Rado was a specialist in foreign affairs for Channel 4 News and covered most international conflicts of the past decade.

April 2: Kaveh Golestan (BBC, U.K.)

Golestan, 52, a photojournalist and BBC freelance cameraman, was killed in northern Iraq after stepping on a land mine in the town of Kifri, in the southern part of Kurdish-controlled Iraq. Golestan was part of the BBC’s four-man crew filming in Kifri, an area that saw heavy fighting between Iraqi troops and Kurdish and coalition forces. Two other members of the crew were unharmed while another colleague was taken to American Military Hospital in Sulaymaniya with a foot injury.

April 4: Michael Kelly (Atlantic Monthly/Washington Post, U.S.)

Kelly, 46, the Atlantic Monthly editor-at-large and a Washington Post columnist, was killed along with a U.S. soldier when their Humvee ran off the road and into a canal south of Baghdad. The vehicle was avoiding Iraqi fire as it approached Baghdad’s main airport. Both the driver and Kelly were trapped under water. He was embedded with the Army’s 3rd Infantry Division.

Kelly is credited with revitalizing the Atlantic Monthly, which won three National Magazine Awards last year. He stepped down as editor in Fall 2002 and planned to write a book about the history of the steel industry.

April 6: Kamaran Abdurazaq Muhamed (BBC, U.K.)

Muhamed, 25, a Kurdish translator working for the BBC, died when a U.S. jet bombed an American and Kurdish convoy. The bombing killed 18 people and wounded more than 45, including U.S. troops. The incident occured not far from the town of Kalak. Muhamed, who had worked for the BBC since mid-March, died from blood loss after losing his legs.

April 6: David Bloom (NBC, U.S.)

Bloom, 39, a co-anchor of NBC’s “Today” show weekend edition, died after suffering a pulmonary embolism. Bloom, a former White House correspondent, was traveling with the Army’s 3rd Infantry Division and transmitted images of the war from a refurbished tank he helped design called the “Bloom-mobile.”

However, the long hours immobilized lead to a blood clot in his leg that doctors believe caused the embolism. A pulmonary embolism is caused by an obstruction of the pulmonary artery in the lungs by a blood clot usually originating from a vein in the leg or pelvis. The most common cause is a clot formed deep in the leg due to long periods of immobilization.

April 7: Julio Anguita Parrado (El Mundo, Spain)

Perrado, 31, a journalist for the Spanish newspaper El Mundo, was killed in an Iraqi missile strike nine miles south of central Baghdad. He was traveling with the Army’s 3rd Infantry Division. The infantry was advancing into Baghdad and one of Saddam Hussein’s palaces.

Perrado was normally assigned to New York for the newspaper and covered the September 11 attacks, but decided to go to Iraq once the war broke out.

April 7: Christian Liebig (Focus, Germany)

Liebig, 35, worked for Focus, a German newsweekly and was one of a few German journalists who received permission to be embedded with U.S. forces in Iraq. He was killed in the same Iraqi missile attack south of Baghdad that killed Parrado.

Liebig was traveling with the 2nd Brigade of the Army’s 3rd Infantry Division and was located in a camp the brigade set up as its tactical command and control center when the missile struck.

April 8: Tareq Ayyoub (Al-Jazeera, Qatar)

Ayyoub, 35, a Palestinian Jordanian, and an Al-Jazeera correspondent in Baghdad, died from wounds he suffered when the Al-Jazeera office was struck in a U.S. bombing mission. The office was a two-story house in a residential area and located on a road that connects the Information Ministry with the old presidential palace compound. He had arrived in Baghdad only a week before the bombing.

April 8: Taras Protsyuk (Reuters, U.K.)

Protsyuk, 35, a Ukrainian national and a Reuters cameraman, was killed when a U.S. tank fired rounds into the Palestine Hotel, where he was staying. The hotel was home to hundreds of international reporters covering the war. He was part of an 18-member team working for Reuters in Baghdad.

April 8: Jose Couso (Telecinco, Spain)

Couso, 37, a cameraman for the Spanish television network Telecinco, also was killed when a U.S. tank fired rounds into the Palestine Hotel, where he was staying. He was taken to San Rafael Hospital in Baghdad where he was operated on for wounds to the jaw, thorax and leg. He died after surgery of respiratory failure.

April 14: Mario Podesta (America TV, Argentina)

Podesta, 52, a freelance Argentine war correspondent on assignment for the Argentine television station America TV, was killed in a car accident on the highway between Amman, Jordan, and Baghdad. He was in a convoy of approximately 30 cars trying to get back to Baghdad before nightfall. The crash occurred about 25 miles outside of Baghdad when a car tire exploded. Podesta was killed instantly.

April 15: Veronica Cabrera (America TV, Argentina)

Cabrera, 29, a freelance camerawoman for America TV, was traveling in the same car as Mario Podesta. She was taken to a hospital in Baghdad for treatment after the car accident. She died at the hospital about 24 hours later from critical injuries. She is the first female journalist known to have died while covering the war in Iraq.

May 9: Elizabeth Neuffer (The Boston Globe, U.S.)

Neuffer, 46, was killed in an automobile accident in Iraq while on assignment for the Globe covering the aftermath of the war. Neuffer died when the car in which she was a passenger apparently struck a guardrail near the town of Samarra, about halfway between Tikrit and Baghdad. Neuffer was returning to Baghdad from an overnight trip to Tikrit, where she was reporting a story on efforts to rid Iraq of the influence of the Ba’ath Party.

Neuffer’s translator, Waleed Khalifa Hassan Al-Dulami, also died in the accident.

According to a report in the Globe, Neuffer began her career at the newspaper in 1988. During that time, she had various reporting assignments including federal courts reporter, covering the Persian Gulf War in 1991, reporting on the fall of the Soviet Union and the resignation of Mikhail Gorbachev, covering the Clinton Administration’s efforts to reform health care, serving in Berlin as the newspaper’s European correspondent, and working as the newspaper’s United Nations correspondent and roving foreign correspondent. Most recently, she reported extensively from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran and Iraq. Neuffer won several national awards for her work.