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Last Updated:  Thursday, 3 April, 2003, 07:22 GMT 08:22 UK
Al-Jazeera halts Iraq broadcasts
Al-Jazeera broadcast of Saddam Hussein
The station has shown Saddam Hussein speeches
The Arabic news channel al-Jazeera says it is suspending its reports from Iraq in protest after Baghdad banned two of its correspondents from working there.

The station said the Iraqi Information Ministry had barred Diyar al-Omari - an Iraqi - from reporting, and ordered correspondent Tayseer Alouni to leave the country.

The channel's editor-in-chief, Ibrahim Helal, told the BBC that the Iraqis had given no reasons for their action, which he called sudden and unjustified

Al-Jazeera says it will continue to transmit images from its offices in Baghdad, Basra and Mosul.

The station interrupted a regular broadcast to make its announcement.

They cannot dictate to us who can and cannot work
Ibrahim Helal

Its eight correspondents will remain in Iraq until the Iraqis clarify their decision, Mr Helal said, adding that it was not the first time the Iraqi authorities had tried to ban its journalists.

"We faced lots of things like that before from the Iraqi Government and from other governments in the Arab region, because this is a way they think," Mr Helal told the BBC.

"They think the can impose some conditions on al-Jazeera or they think they can change the reporters, they can put their own criteria on our work."

The Qatar-based satellite broadcaster is one of the most influential voices in the Arab world. It says it has 35 million viewers.

The US and UK have accused the station of bias and criticised it for airing pictures of dead Western troops.

Al-Jazeera's new English-language website has suffered a number of denial-of-service attacks since the war began, in which hackers flooded the site with junk messages.

Visitors were also redirected to web pages with pro-US messages or pornography.

Iraq expelled correspondents for the US cable news broadcaster CNN last week.

The BBC's Fiona Werge
"No reason for the decision [to ban the reporters] was given"

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