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Last Updated: Friday, 7 May, 2004, 11:31 GMT 12:31 UK
Polish TV crew attacked in Iraq
Waldemar Milewicz
Waldemar Milewicz was a well-known war correspondent
Gunmen in Iraq have killed a leading Polish journalist and his picture editor in a drive-by shooting.

TV reporter Waldemar Milewicz, 47, was well known in Poland and had covered a number of conflicts around the world.

An Iraqi man travelling with the crew said the gunmen drove up behind their car and raked it with bullets before turning around to fire again.

Mr Milewicz's colleague, Polish-Algerian Mounir Bouamrane, also died. Cameraman Jerzy Ernst was injured.

Mr Ernst, who was shot in the arm, spoke to Poland's TVP from his hospital bed.

You can get killed in downtown Warsaw
Waldemar Milewicz,
archive interview
Mr Ernst said the main highway was blocked and their driver took a local road he thought was safe.

"Milewicz and Mounir were sitting in the back seat, I was in the front seat with my camera. Suddenly we heard shots from very close behind and the window was shattered," he said.

"Then there was silence and suddenly Mounir started to shout. We got out of the car and we saw Waldek was sitting bent over, very pale, with blood running from his nose."

The two tried to get Milewicz from the car, but the shooting started again, killing Bouamrane and wounding Ernst.

Star reporter

TVP led its midday reports with a 15-minute tribute to Mr Milewicz.

Newsreader Danuta Holecka said: "He went wherever there were conflicts to report them. He risked his life for us to show the world as it is."

The Polish crew's car
The gunmen reportedly attacked, then returned to fire again
The report included an old interview with Mr Milewicz in which he dismissed the danger of being a war correspondent.

"You can get killed in downtown Warsaw," he said.

Mr Milewicz had been working for TVP since 1984, and was an experienced war correspondent who had covered various conflicts including in the Balkans, Chechnya, Cambodia and Rwanda.

He was awarded a journalism prize by Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore in 1995 for his work in Chechnya and was named Poland's Reporter of the Year in 2001.

Mr Bouamrane, 36, a Polish-Algerian national, had been working for about 15 years for TVP.

The three-man crew had only been in Iraq three days before the attack south of Baghdad.

Their bodies were taken to a morgue in Latifiya, 30km south of the capital.

Dangers

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists says around 27 journalists have died in Iraq since the war began in March 2003.

The committee has described Iraq as the world's most dangerous place to be a journalist.

"Postwar Iraq is fraught with risks for reporters: banditry, gunfire and bombings are common. Insurgents have added a new threat by systematically targeting foreigners, including journalists, and Iraqis who work for them."

Poland, a firm supporter of the US-led occupation, has about 2,400 troops in Iraq.

Polish soldiers are commanding a 9,000-strong, 21-nation force in the south-central region of Iraq - in a zone between the US and UK-led areas.




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