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Sun 31 Aug 2003 04:00 AM

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US soldiers threaten to shoot Al Jazeera crew

On Friday (August 29) two reporters of the controversial Qatar-based Al Jazeera news channel, were detained by US forces while covering an explosion near the Iraqi city of Ramadi.

On Friday (August 29) two reporters of the controversial Qatar-based Al Jazeera news channel, were detained by US forces while covering an explosion near the Iraqi city of Ramadi. On their release, US soldiers threatened to shoot the reporters if they were ever seen in the vicinity again, according to news reports and a source at Al Jazeera. According to Al Jazeera, its journalists had gone to cover an explosion in the Ramadi area, but while filming there was a second explosion in the vicinity. The reporters then went towards the sight of the second explosion and subsequently were stopped and apprehended by CPA soldiers. “It appears that they picked on them [only]. Because there were several journalists covering the same area,” Al Jazeera’s spokesperson, Jihad Ballout, told Arabian Business. “There was an attack by ‘resistance forces’ near the Iraqi city of Ramadi and a lot of media was there but they [CPA soldiers] picked on the Al Jazeera journalists, although they gave credentials that they were journalists,” added Ballout.Sources at Al Jazeera further said, “It was clearly indicated by American soldiers the security of Al Jazeera’s team is at grave risk if they were seen again at Ramadi area.” One of the news channel’s correspondents told Reuters, “[U.S. soldiers] expressed their hatred of Al Jazeera and threatened to open fire on any Al Jazeera correspondent working in Ramadi in the future.” A source at the news channel told Arabian Business, “The journalists did not have the foresight [of] the soldier’s badge number or name…they were so intimidated they didn’t bother, but they did inform the [Al Jazeera] head office and we made all the contacts possible with all the communications people for the army. To be fair, they [the CPA] said ‘you provide us with the name and we will do the necessary investigation’ but we couldn’t.”Arabian Business tried to contact the CPA but was unable to obtain a response.

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