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Journalist Killed in Iraq After Witnessing Bombing of Civilians

AFP | August 17 2004

AN Iraqi freelance journalist working for Germany's ZDF television has been killed in the flashpoint city of Fallujah, the network said today.

Mahmud Hamid Abbas, 32, had gone to the city on Sunday to film when he was killed "in unexplained circumstances", it said.

The media watchdog Reporters without Borders (RSF) said the journalist was killed as he was leaving his native Fallujah for Baghdad.

"When he phoned the ZDF office in Baghdad to say he was coming he mentioned he had just filmed a house destroyed by US warplanes," RSF said, quoting ZDF's Iraq correspondent.

"About 25 minutes later, he rang again to say he had seen a second attack. During the call, he suddenly said he and others with him were being fired at. There was a dull thud, apparently an explosion, and the line was cut off, according to the ZDF correspondent in Iraq," the Paris-based rights group said in a statement.

"He was not far from the front line between the US and Iraqi rebel forces fighting in Fallujah but there was no evidence he had been targeted by a missile, rocket or bomb fired by them. He may have been killed by criminals active in the area."

Married with three children, Mahmud Hamid Abbas is the 20th journalist to be killed in Iraq this year and the 34th since the start of the fighting in March 2003, RSF said.

"This new death is another blow to media workers in Iraq, who have already had a very hard time," it said.