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Al Jazeera correspondent killed in US attack

Al Jazeera, 8 April 2003.
www.globalresearch.ca   8 April 2003

The URL of this article is: http://globalresearch.ca/articles/ALJ304B.html

Al-Jazeera correspondent Tariq Ayoub was killed on Tuesday when two US missiles struck the Baghdad offices of the Qatar-based channel.

Another journalist died and four others including were also injured when a US tank round later hit the Palestine Hotel where at least 200 international correspondents, including Al-Jazeera reporters, are staying.

"We regret to inform you that our cameraman and correspondent Tariq Ayoub was killed this morning during the US missile strike on our Baghdad office," the Qatar-based channel said in a statement read out during its news bulletin.

Another cameraman, Zuheir Iraqi, was slightly wounded with shrapnel to his neck. Ayoub giving his last report minutes before the US attack

They were both standing on the roof getting ready for a live broadcast amid intensifying bombardment of the city when the building was hit by two missiles, according to Tayseer Allouni, another Al Jazeera correspondent.

Cameraman Iraqi came down bleeding, but Ayoub did not show up. “I ran up as the shells were still falling and crawled on the roof and shouted for Tariq, but he did not answer,” Allouni said.

Allouni had gone down because of the intense bombing. He later went up again and with the help of Abu Dhabi TV correspondent, Jaber Obeid, they found Ayoub’s body.

Allouni, Jaber and others held Ayoub’s body which was covered by a blanket and placed it in Abu Dhabi TV’s vehicle that transported it to hospital.

Shortly afterwards, US warplanes returned to hit the neighbouring Abu Dhabi TV offices.

“It seems that we have become a target,” said Allouni.

Another of Jazeera's Baghdad correspondents Majed Abdel Hadi called the U.S. missile strike and Ayoub's death a "crime".

"I will not be objective about this because we have been dragged into this conflict," he said, visibly upset. "We were targeted because the Americans don't want the world to see the crimes they are committing against the Iraqi people."

Al-Jazeera aired footage of Ayoub only one hour before his death as he was preparing to go live. He was leaning on sandbags and wearing a helmet and a flack jacket.

“I knew Tariq for 10 years ,” said Yasser Abu Hilalah, Al-Jazeera correspondent in Amman. “He was very brave, professional and a hard worker,” he added. “Al-Jazeera office is located in a residential area and there is no way that the attack was a mistake.”

Ayoub. aged 35, was married with one daughter. He travelled to Baghdad only five days ago to join the Al-Jazeera team from the channel's Amman office where he had worked as a financial correspondent for three years. Originally from Palestine, he had also worked for the Jordan Times and the international news agency Associated Press.

Earlier, Abdel-Hadi told our presenter that Al-Jazeera office was “deliberately targeted… and it is not the first time. Our Kabul office was hit by four (US) missiles,” he said. US warplanes hit the Afghanistan office of Al Jazeera in 2001, just 10 minutes after its correspondents had received warning of an impending attack.

Last week, the hotel where Al-Jazeera correspondents in the southern Iraqi city of Basra was also hit by four bombs that did not explode.

“Al-Jazeera team has no role in the war. We are only witnesses and are reporting objectively. This proves that the US is trying to cover the crime its commits in its war on Iraq. Targeting witnesses is the biggest crime,” said Abdel-Hadi, visibly upset.

Today's bombing left Al Jazeera's offices a ruin. But the channel said it would continue its coverage of the US-led war on Iraq that began on March 20. “It is impossible to work in the office, but we will continue to cover the war within the capabilities that we have and despite the difficult circumstances,” Abdel-Hadi said.

The European Union said after the incident it is to call on the United States to keep journalists out of the firing line.

Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou and EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana had "agreed to make a joint representation to the United States in order to protect journalists," he said. "Greece condemns this repugnant act and expresses its sorrow and regret."

Reporters carry a wounded cameraman from Spanish channel Telecinco from the Palestine Hotel after it was hit by a shell 08 April, leaving one reporter dead and many injured. AFP PHOTO/Karim SAHIB

A Reuters journalist, Taras Protsyuk, 35, a Ukrainian national, who who was married with an eight-year-old son, died today after his hotel was struck by a US tank round.

"Taras's death, and the injuries sustained by the others, were so unnecessary," said Reuters' editor in chief Geert Linnebank.

He called into question the "judgement of advancing US troops who have known all along that this hotel is the main base for almost all foreign journalists in Baghdad."

Reuters has its offices on the 15th floor of the Palestine Hotel which houses most of the foreign media covering the Iraq war.

The 15th and 17th floors of the hotel were struck, blowing out windows as fierce exchanges raged on the 20th day of the US-led war.

The 14th floor was also damaged. A hole had been knocked in the hotel facade, laying bare the metal structure of a column running past a balcony.

Dubai's Al-Arabiya television channel said its bureau on the 17th floor also suffered damage.

General Buford Blount, commander of the US 3rd Infantry Division said a US tank was "receiving fire from the hotel, RPG (rocket-propelled grenade) and small-arms fire, and engaged with one tank round. The firing stopped."

But BBC correspondent Rageh Omar cast doubt on the US line saying he heard no gunfire from the hotel prior to it being hit. --- Al Jazeera and agencies

 Copyright Al Jazeera  2003.  For fair use only/ pour usage équitable seulement .