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The New Arab

Popular Mobilisation militia 'kills' TV crew in Iraq's Diyala

Militiamen kidnapped and executed the Iraqi journalists [AFP]

Date of publication: 12 January, 2016

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Militiamen killed two Iraqi Sharqiya TV journalists as they returned from reporting on Monday's violence in eastern Iraq's Diyala province, said local police sources.
An Iraqi television reporter and a cameraman were killed by gunmen on Tuesday when they were on a reporting trip to cover Monday's militia attacks in the eastern Iraqi province, according to Iraqi police sources in Diyala.

Iraq is one of the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists, particularly those from the country, who are far more exposed to attacks than their foreign colleagues.

Colonel Hussein al-Tamimi from Diyala police told The New Arab gunmen riding in cars belonging to the government and wearing uniforms of the Shia-dominated Popular Mobilisation militia kidnapped and killed on Tuesday Sharqiya TV correspondent Saif Talal and his cameraman Hassan al-Anbaki.

Tamimi said that locals found the bodies of the two journalists riddled with bullets an hour after they were kidnapped.

Their cameras and video tapes were confiscated, he said.

The journalists were killed while returning from Baquba, capital of Diyala province, where they were on a reporting trip with Staff Lieutenant General Mizher al-Azzawi, the head of security command responsible for the province, Sharqiya said.
Their cameras and video tapes were confiscated
- Diyala police

A colleague from the channel, Minas al-Suhail, said the two journalists were driving some distance behind the commander's convoy on their way back from covering violence in the town of Miqdadiyah in Diyala.

Masked militiamen in three SUVs stopped their vehicle in the village of Abu Saida, took the journalists out and executed them with assault rifles, Suhail said.

Sectarian violence

Shia militia groups, some of which have been repeatedly accused of serious abuses, wield huge influence in the eastern province of Diyala.

Sharqiya TV is viewed as sympathetic to the country's Sunni minority.

The killings took place within sight of a police checkpoint, but the police did not intervene, Suhail said.
The perpetrators want to incite sectarian violence
- UN Iraq representative Jan Kubis

Twin bombings in Miqdadiyah killed 20 people at a cafe the night before, and attackers subsequently blew up multiple Sunni mosques and burned houses and shops.
 
  The site where a bomb exploded at a cafe and a suicide bomber detonated
an explosives-rigged vehicle a day earlier, in Miqdadiyah, Iraq [AFP]

The United Nations issued a statement condemning the mosque bombings.

"Once again, places of worship are being attacked. The perpetrators want to incite sectarian violence, in a desperate attempt to take the country back into the dark days of sectarian strife," UN Iraq representative Jan Kubis said.

Iraq declared victory over the Islamic State militant group in Diyala early last year.

But the province remains a hotbed of violence by both IS militants and powerful Shia militia forces that have played a major role in the fight against the extremist group.

IS overran large areas north and west of Baghdad in June 2014, but Iraqi forces backed by US-led air strikes have since dealt the militants significant defeats.

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