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Last Updated: Sunday, 6 June, 2004, 23:52 GMT 00:52 UK
Shock over shooting of BBC crew
Simon Cumbers, freelance journalist and cameraman working for the BBC
Cumbers: "Creative and hard-working"
The attack on BBC's Simon Cumbers and Frank Gardner near Riyadh has been condemned by their media colleagues as well as British and Saudi officials.

Irishman Cumbers, 36, was killed and Briton Gardner, 42, was injured after coming under fire from gunmen.

UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw "utterly condemned" the attack, while Liberal Democrat's Menzies Campbell described it as "no coincidence".

The BBC said "our thoughts are with the families of Simon and Frank tonight".

Frank Gardner
Gardner has often reported from Saudi Arabia

"We are in touch with them and offering them all the support that we can," BBC's Director of News Richard Sambrook added.

BBC News Online's Cathy Grieve, who had known Cumbers for a decade, said it was "devastating that such a talented young man has lost his life in this way".

The Saudi ambassador in Britain, Prince Turki al-Faisal, offered "the most sincere and heartfelt condolences to the families" of the two journalists.

'Great shock'

Mr Straw said in a statement: "I extend my sympathy to the family of the cameraman who was killed and my thoughts are with Frank Gardner, his family, colleagues and friends.

This tragic incident demonstrates that everyone in public life or who reports upon it is in the front line and treated as fair game by terrorists
Menzies Campbell
Liberal Democrat Foreign Affairs spokesman
"Frank Gardner is an outstanding reporter who always seeks to do everything he can to explain the dangerous world we live in to the BBC audience.

"I have nothing but admiration for journalists like Mr Gardner who know their lives are at risk as they go about their work.

"We will continue to do all we can to support the Saudi authorities in their fight against terrorism."

Mr Campbell, who is Liberal Democrat Foreign Affairs' spokesman, said it was "no coincidence that BBC staff should be targeted in this way".

"This tragic incident demonstrates that everyone in public life or who reports upon it is in the front line and treated as fair game by terrorists," he added.

Mr Sambrook said the death of Simon Cumbers "was a great shock", adding that everything possible was being given to the families of the two men.

The Saudi ambassador said: "Frank Gardner is personally known to me and to many people in Saudi Arabia as a highly respected journalist.

"He has been vigorous in his pursuit of the truth behind the terrible evil of al-Qaeda which haunts us all and we wish him a speedy recover and safe return to his family in Britain."

Personal tribute

"I spent many long hours with Simon covering events in Northern Ireland in the 90s when he worked for AP" Ms Grieve said.

"Simon was enthusiastic, creative and hard working... He was always positive about his work and was keen to do the job to the best of his ability, regardless of how exciting or mundane that task may be.

"He kept us entertained, was always cheerful and was an affable young man.

"He was pioneering in his ways of working, willing to take on any task and forging ahead with the use of new technology - long before it was widely popular," she added.




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