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Last Updated:  Wednesday, 9 April, 2003, 11:08 GMT 12:08 UK
Arab journalists 'trapped' in Baghdad
Journalists carry wounded colleague through the Palestine Hotel
Journalists have fallen victim to the war in Iraq

More than two dozen journalists from the Arabic-language Abu Dhabi television station are reportedly trapped in their Baghdad office amid fighting between US and Iraqi forces.

The station's news director, Nart Bouran, told the BBC that the building appeared to have been hit by US small arms fire during a battle for the nearby Republic (or Jumhuriya) Bridge in central Baghdad, and that a tank shell had hit the building next door.

"It has turned into the frontline of the battlefield between Iraqi and coalition forces," he said.

Another Arabic-language news network, al-Jazeera, said it was trying to pull its team out of the Iraqi capital following the death of one of its staff during a US air raid on the city on Tuesday.

The correspondent was among three journalists who died when al-Jazeera's office and the nearby Palestine Hotel, which houses foreign journalists, were hit by coalition fire.

As fighting continuing on Wednesday, BBC correspondents said that their Iraqi Government minders had run away, leaving their reports unmonitored.

Sniper doubts

Two cameramen, working for Reuters news agency and Spanish television channel Telecinco, were killed and three others injured when a shell hit the Palestine Hotel.

My wish is to get them all out
Ibrahim Hilal, al-Jazeera editor-in-chief
Footage showed an American Abrams tank firing at the building.

The US Defense Department said US forces acted after coming under small arms fire from the hotel.

However, BBC correspondent Rageh Omaar, who was in the hotel at the time, said recordings did not pick up any sounds of fire coming from the building in the minutes before the blast.

Pulling out

Al-Jazeera said Tareq Ayoub died and a cameraman was injured when two missiles hit its offices.

MEDIA DEATHS IN IRAQ
8 April: Jose Couso (Telecinco, Spain)
8 April: Taras Protsyuk (Reuters, UK)
8 April: Tareq Ayoub (al-Jazeera, Qatar)
7 April: Christian Liebig (Focus, Germany)
7 April: Julio Anguita Parrado (El Mundo, Spain)
6 April: David Bloom (NBC, US)
6 April: Kamaran Abdurazaq Muhamed (BBC, UK)
4 April: Michael Kelly (Washington Post, US)
2 April: Kaveh Golestan (BBC, UK)
30 March: Gaby Rado (ITN, UK)
22 March: Paul Moran (ABC, Australia)
22 March: Terry Lloyd (ITN, UK)
US military officials said the building was struck by mistake.

The station's editor-in-chief on Wednesday called on coalition forces to help the network's journalists leave the city.

"I believe that none of them are safe any more, whether in Baghdad or the rest of Iraq, even those who are with American troops," Ibrahim Hilal told French news agency AFP.

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists has written to US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld calling for an investigation into the death of the al-Jazeera journalist.

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) - which represents hundreds of thousands of journalists worldwide - has also issued a statement condemning both sides in the conflict.

The US Defense Department has expressed regret for the journalists' deaths.


WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Gillian Ni Cheallaigh
"It's been a bad war for journalists"



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