BAGHDAD, Iraq – Two international media watchdogs have condemned the slayings of two journalists in Iraq that one of the groups said raised to at least 100 the number of media members killed since the U.S. invasion in March 2003.
"No armed conflict since the Second World War has been so deadly for the press," Reporters Without Borders, a French press freedom organization, said in a statement Wednesday. The group described the high death toll as "appalling."
Adil al-Mansuri, an Iraqi correspondent for the Iranian government-run Al-Alam television station, was shot as he was returning to his western Baghdad home Monday.
Reporters Without Borders said 100 journalists and media assistants are known to have been killed in Iraq since 2003. It said two are missing and three others are currently held hostage.
The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists put the number at 75 journalists and 27 media assistants killed, including at least 54 Iraqis.
CPJ said it is also investigating the details surrounding the killing Sunday of Riyad Muhammad Ali, a reporter for the local weekly Talafar al-Yawm.
CPJ is seeking to determine whether the slaying was directly related to Ali's work, it said in a statement Wednesday.
"We mourn the death of our colleagues Adel Naji al-Mansouri and Riyad Muhammad Ali, both senselessly murdered," CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon said.
"As sectarian violence spirals, journalists of all backgrounds appear to be targeted, adding to the extraordinary danger facing the press in Iraq."
Al-Alam, an Arabic language channel widely watched in Iraq, is run by the government of Iran, an overwhelmingly Shiite country. Iraq also is a majority Shiite country, but Shiites were long suppressed by the Sunni-dominated government of Saddam Hussein.
Al-Mansuri, a Shiite, had moved his wife and daughter from Baghdad after receiving threats because of his sect, according to his colleagues.
It was the first such attack against a staffer of Al-Alam.
"The Iraqi government must do everything possible to identify and punish those responsible for these atrocities," Reporters Without Borders said.
"It is unacceptable that nothing has yet been done to shed light on these increasingly commonplace murders and that no measures have been taken to protect journalists in Iraq," the group said.