Iraqi journos to be taught kung fu

Union to offer courses in martial arts and survival skills to stem the number being killed in the country.
By Safura Rahimi
Mon 24 Sep 2007 12:33 PM

Iraqi journalists are being offered the chance to learn martial arts and survival techniques in a bid to stem the number being killed in the war-torn country.

Over 200 journalists and media assistants have been killed in Iraq since the US-led occupation in March 2003, and have become a popular target for insurgents.

The Iraqi Journalists Union in Baghdad is set to offer the training courses to its members to arm them deal with the dangers they face daily in their jobs.

The martial arts and survival classes will teach reporters, photographers and television crews how to keep a low profile and hide their equipment when in the field, newswire AP reported on Monday.

The courses will be offered in Baghdad, the southern city of Basra and Irbil in the north, the newswire quoted Union chief Shihab Al-Timimi as saying.

"We feel that it's our duty to protect the remaining Iraqi journalists who are constantly facing the danger of assassination and kidnapping," Al-Timimi told AP.

He also called on Iraq's interior ministry to ease firearms laws to allow journalists to carry weapons to defend themselves.

Journalist watchdog group Reporters Without Borders said in addition to the 200 killed, two are missing and 14 have been kidnapped.

The organisation describes the dangers journalists have faced in Iraq since the start of fighting as "the bloodiest for the media since World War II".

Most of the journalists killed worked for Iraqi news organisations, however a number international media have also been killed. Many are believed to have died when they were stopped at militia and insurgent checkpoints, AP said.

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