Journalist Killed in Northern Iraq; Three Others Missing
GERDIGO, Iraq – An apparent car bomb killed at least five people, including an Australian cameraman, at a checkpoint Saturday near a camp of the Al Qaeda-linked militant group Ansar al-Islam. At least eight people were injured.
The bombing came after Ansar al-Islam's base in northeastern Iraq was struck overnight by U.S. cruise missiles. The group has carried out car bombings in the past in fighting with Kurdish militias.
The journalist's death -- along with the wounding and disappearance of several other journalists in southern Iraq -- prompted the Pentagon to urge media not positioned with U.S. military units to "exercise restraint" while covering the fighting.
Britain's ITN television news reported Saturday that three members of an ITN news crew were missing after coming under fire en route to Basra in southern Iraq.
The missing men were identified as reporter Terry Lloyd, cameraman Fred Nerac and translator Hussein Othman.
Another cameraman, Daniel Demoustier, was injured as the crew drove toward Basra in two vehicles. ITN said in London that Demoustier was not able to see what happened to his colleagues.
"I was overtaken by one of the Iraqi vehicles. They gave me a thumbs up, then all of a sudden we were fired on from the right-hand side," he said. "I ducked down in my seat and kept driving. I looked to the right and correspondent Terry Lloyd was gone."
At the Pentagon, spokeswoman Victoria Clarke warned that journalists who were not among the hundreds embedded with U.S. military units could get caught in the middle of the fighting.
"We ask all news organizations to exercise restraint," she told journalists. "Combat operations are moving in a fast and unpredictable fashion. The coalition forces will, of course, exercise extreme care whenever there are noncombatants. However, reporters who get between coalition and Iraqi forces put themselves at extreme risk."
The journalist killed in the north was Paul Moran, 39, a freelance cameraman with the Australian Broadcasting Corp., the ABC said in a statement.
Eric Campbell, a correspondent for the Australian network, had minor shrapnel injuries, the statement said.
Journalists had gone to the checkpoint near the village of Gerdigo to interview refugees streaming out of the area hit by cruise missiles. One of the cars coming out with the refugees exploded, according to an account pieced together from witnesses and reporters.
Another civilian and three Peshmergas, or Kurdish soldiers, also were killed. None of their identities were made known immediately. The shattered remains of a car were scattered around the checkpoint.
The area is part of the Kurdish-controlled enclave protected from Saddam Hussein's forces by U.S. and British aircraft that patrol a no-fly zone over northern Iraq. The Ansar al-Islam camp, however, is outside the control of Kurdish forces.
After U.S. forces fired Tomahawk cruise missiles at suspected positions of the Ansar al-Islam guerrillas, hundreds of people fled Khurmal, which lies about six miles south of the checkpoint and eight miles from the Iranian border.
"I am afraid of another barrage of missiles coming at us," said Mohammed Rahman, 17, as he walked away from Khurmal with his cousins, carrying a bag with clothing in it.
"We're living an abnormal life, we're living in endless fear and war," said Rangi Said, 18 who carried a basket with food.
The Paris-based media advocacy group Reporters Without Borders said in a statement that Saturday's car bombing appeared to be targeting journalists. The statement cited a photographer at the scene.
Moran, who was based in Paris, had worked extensively in the Middle East. He is survived by his wife and baby daughter, the Australian Broadcasting Corp. Web site said.