APTN Cameraman Shot While Walking to a Mosque in Baghdad, Fifth AP Employee to Die

An Associated Press Television News cameraman was shot twice and killed in Baghdad on Thursday while walking to a mosque near his home on his day off.

Saif M. Fakhry, 26, was the fifth AP employee to die violently in the Iraq war and the third killed since December.

"Our heartfelt sympathies go out to Saif's wife and family and his colleagues in Iraq," said AP President and CEO Tom Curley.

"This is a particularly dangerous time in a place that already is unimaginably dangerous. Saif's death reminds us again of the risks and hardships that accompany vital frontline journalism and of the gratitude we all owe to those who do it."

Family members said Fakhry, who worked for APTN since August 2004, was spending the day with his wife, Samah Abbas, who is pregnant with their first child and expecting in June.

According to his family, Fakhry was walking to a mosque in the Baghdad neighborhood of Amariyah when he was shot. Gunmen had been involved in fighting in the area around his home for two days, but it was not clear who fired the shots that killed Fakhry.

Fakhry, whose birthday would have been next week, graduated from a Baghdad high school and a city polytechnic college as a technician. He was a member of the Iraqi Union of Journalists.

Fakhry worked for Dubai Television, Al Majd TV and CNBC before joining APTN.

He is survived by his mother, Yaldez Karim, as well as four brothers and a sister.

On Jan. 5, the body of an Associated Press employee, Ahmed Hadi Naji, 28, was found shot in the back of the head, six days after he was last seen by his family leaving for work. He had been a messenger and occasional cameraman for the AP for 2 1/2 years.

The circumstances of Naji's death were unclear. Dozens of Iraqis are found slain almost every day in Baghdad, many believed victims of sectarian death squads.

Naji was killed less than a month after AP cameraman Aswan Ahmed Lutfallah, 35, was shot to death by insurgents while covering clashes Dec. 12 in Mosul. He was the second AP journalist killed in that northern Iraqi city in less than two years.

On April 23, 2005, cameraman Saleh Ibrahim was killed after an explosion in Mosul. He was a father of five in his early 30s. AP photographer Mohammed Ibrahim was wounded. The circumstances surrounding the death and injury are still unclear.

In 2004, Ismail Taher Mohsin, an AP driver, was ambushed by gunmen and killed near his home in Baghdad.

Before Fakhry's death, Reporters Without Borders had recorded at least 130 journalists killed in Iraq since the war started in 2003. Fifty-one media assistants also have been killed, according to the Paris-based advocacy group.

The Committee to Protect Journalists had put the figure at 104 journalists and 39 media support workers killed in Iraq.