Two Iraqi journalists shot dead near Baghdad

(iStock)
(iStock)

Baghdad - Gunmen shot dead two Iraqi television journalists north of Baghdad on Tuesday who had been on a reporting trip with a top security officer, the channel said.

Iraq is one of the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists, especially those from the country, who are far more exposed to attacks than their foreign colleagues.

"Armed militias assassinated correspondent Saif Tallal and his cameraman Hassan al-Anbaki near Baquba," the capital of Diyala province, a Sharqiya news presenter said on the air.

The journalists were killed while returning to Baquba from a reporting trip with Staff Lieutenant General Mizher al-Azzawi, the head of security command responsible for the province, the channel said.

Minas al-Suhail, a colleague from the channel, told AFP that the two journalists were driving some distance behind the commander's convoy on their way back from covering violence in the Muqdadiyah area.

Masked militiamen in three SUVs stopped their vehicle in the village of Abu Saida, took the journalists out and executed them with Kalashnikov assault rifles, Suhail said.

Shi'ite militia groups, some of which have been repeatedly accused of serious abuses, wield huge influence in the eastern province of Diyala.

Sharqiya is a Sunni-owned TV channel viewed as sympathetic to the country's Sunni minority.

The murders took place within sight of a police checkpoint, but the police did not intervene, he said.

Twin bombings in Muqdadiyah killed 20 people at a café the night before, and attackers subsequently blew up multiple Sunni mosques and burned houses and shops, officers said.

The United Nations issued a statement condemning the mosque bombings.

"Once again, places of worship are being attacked. The perpetrators want to incite sectarian violence, in a desperate attempt to take the country back into the dark days of sectarian strife," UN Iraq representative Jan Kubis said.

Iraq declared victory over the Islamic State jihadist group ISIS in Diyala early last year.

But the province remains a hotbed of violence by both the jihadists and powerful Shi'ite militia forces that have played a major role in the fight against ISIS.

ISIS overran large areas north and west of Baghdad in June 2014, but Iraqi forces backed by US-led air strikes have since dealt the jihadists significant defeats.

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