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Last Updated: Monday, 7 July, 2003, 07:37 GMT 08:37 UK
Shot journalist told to 'stay home'
Richard Wild
Richard Wild had been in Iraq less than a fortnight
The family of a British freelance journalist shot dead in Iraq have told how they pleaded with him not to go to the country.

Richard Wild, 24, was shot by a lone gunman outside the Iraqi National Museum in Baghdad on Saturday.

His father Robin said the whole family had tried to persuade him not to go to Iraq before he set off 12 days ago.

"It was something entirely voluntary that he was doing and we simply felt there was no need for him to go," he said.

He was regarded as a dedicated and popular member of the newsroom team
ITN chief executive Stewart Purvis

The former soldier had hoped to establish himself as a war correspondent by covering the aftermath of the war and had previously worked for ITN.

His body was identified by a fellow journalist, the Foreign Office said.

'Mistaken identity'

An investigation had begun into the death, which brings the total of journalists killed in Iraq since the war began to 15.

Mr Wild believes his son may have been mistaken for an American.

"He was very tall and fair-haired and fairly self-confident, and local people may have thought that he was an American," he said.

"Because there is a certain antipathy to the Americans in Baghdad, we can only think that he probably took his share of that antipathy and became a target.

"At the moment, we are not aware of the details of what happened."

The journalist's mother Daphne, 62, said: "We tried to stop him, you know, but he felt that he had to go."

Her son, originally from near Melrose, Roxburghshire, was a Lieutenant in the King's Regiment for a year, before attending Jesus College, Cambridge, to read history, and do an MPhil in medieval history.

He had also spent six months in the London office of ITN as a picture researcher.

ITN chief executive Stewart Purvis said the channel was shocked and saddened to hear of the reported killing.

"In the six months that Richard worked at ITN, he was regarded as a dedicated and popular member of the newsroom team, particularly as he tracked all the material coming into ITN during the Iraq war."

Iraqis killed

The day after Mr Wild was killed a US soldier died of his wounds after being shot while guarding the campus in the centre of the Baghdad.

His shooting was the latest in a series of ambushes, attacks and killings against US-led troops since the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime.

On Saturday, at least seven Iraqis were killed and more than 50 injured in an explosion near a police station in the town of Ramadi 100 kilometres (60 miles) west of Baghdad.

The victims were police recruits who had just finished training with US troops.

Fifteen journalists - three of them British - have died in Iraq since the war began.

ITN broadcaster Terry Lloyd was killed on 22 March in a "friendly fire" incident.

His colleagues, cameraman Fred Nerac and Lebanese translator and driver Hussein Osman are missing, presumed dead.

Eight days later a British journalist, Gaby Rado, was found dead in northern Iraq.

The 48-year-old Channel 4 foreign affairs correspondent is believed to have fallen from the roof of a hotel.

And Kaveh Golestan, an Iranian cameraman working for BBC, was killed by landmine on 2 April, in northern Iraq.

The BBC's Richard Galpin in Baghdad
"Freelancers will not have the same security infrastructure around them"

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