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"This [killing of the two reporters] wasn't a one-off incident. Journalists have been and will continue to be targeted to silence them," journalist Shihab Ahmed told Al Jazeera.
Journalists in Iraq have started a campaign called "I Am Next" to highlight the risks they face for doing their work after two reporters were killed Friday in the southern city of Basra amid ongoing anti-government protests, Al Jazeera reported.
"We started a social media campaign to encourage all journalists to boycott security officials and government representatives until a thorough investigation into the killings is complete," Basra-based journalist Shihab Ahmed told the Qatari news outlet, adding that there is an increasing sense of fear among journalists in the country, where at least five reporters lost their lives since the beginning of the protests in October.
"This [killing of the two reporters] wasn't a one-off incident. Journalists have been and will continue to be targeted to silence them," Ahmed said.
A 39-year-old correspondent for a local television station Ahmad Abdelsamad, and his cameraman Safaa Ghali, 37, died Friday near a police station when a group of armed men in a 4x4 vehicle opened fire on their car, according to witnesses.
After the incident, the spokesman for Iraq's ministry of interior Khalid Muhanna said that an investigation had started.
Journalist Ahmed Abdel Samad and His videographer Safaa Ghali both killed while fighting for a freedom their country never saw in 16 years or even more and the more blood is shed the more I’m hanging on this dream
"We condemn the assassination of the two journalists, Safaa and Ahmed, and have ordered an investigation into the incident. We must bring the perpetrators to justice.”
Journalists, however, say that a lot more needs to be done.
"The targeting of journalists has had a deep impact on press freedoms and freedom of expression in Iraq," said Ibrahim Al-Sarraj, head of the Iraqi Journalists Rights Defense Association (IJRDA).
"A transparent investigation into these crimes is only a first step towards preventing further violence against us," Al-Sarraj said.
The National Association of Iraqi Journalists investigated in its 2019 annual report 188 cases of attacks against journalists, including acts of torture such as electrocution, battery, suffocation, and use of tear gas.
According to the report, journalists were facing "unprecedented repression" because of their coverage of the anti-government demonstrations.