Iraq journalist's family killed 11 members slain by gunmen
This happens a lot but it's always just as tragic each time.
I think we should all appreciate our ability to speak freely without the thought of harm.
I am sure we all feel something for this family and all of the other innocent people who have lost their lives in this war. And no matter what position on the war we take, this I think we can agree, is a tragedy.
raq journalist's family targeted
11 relatives are slain by gunmen in third Baghdad mass killing since Friday.
By Mohammed al Dulaimy and Leila Fadel - McClatchy Newspapers
Published 12:00 am PST Tuesday, November 27, 2007
Story appeared in MAIN NEWS section, Page A8
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BAGHDAD – Gunmen in Baghdad's Shaab neighborhood stormed into a house not far from an Iraqi police checkpoint and killed 11 members of an Iraqi journalist's family, according to reports Monday by witnesses and journalism organizations.
Iraqi police and U.S. military officials said they had no record of the killings. But family members confirmed that the killings took place Sunday in a neighborhood controlled by the Mahdi Army militia. The militia is loyal to radical Shiite Muslim cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.
It was the third mass killing reported in Baghdad since Friday, underscoring the fragility of recent declines in violence. Car bombings on Friday and Sunday killed at least 22 people and injured 96 in the worst such attacks since September.
Meanwhile, the U.S. military said that American troops killed three people, including a child, Monday when they fired on a vehicle that failed to stop at a roadblock north of Baghdad. The incident occurred after U.S. forces had attacked suspected members of al-Qaida in Iraq near the town of Bayji, killing four, a military statement said.
During that action, a vehicle failed to stop when soldiers signaled and fired warning shots. The soldiers then opened fire, killing two men in the car. Soldiers discovered the wounded child when they searched the vehicle later, but the child died while being treated at a military hospital, the statement said.
Sunday's killings revived fears that Iraqi security forces are in league with Shiite militias to carry out attacks. A family member who wasn't at the house when the attack occurred said neighbors told him that the gunmen arrived in a Toyota Land Cruiser with no license plates and used explosives without drawing a response from an Iraqi police checkpoint nearby.
The killings came after the journalist, Dhia al-Kawaz, who edits a Web site from Amman, Jordan, that's frequently critical of militia groups, was warned to stop his work, said the family member, who asked to be identified only as Abu Mohammed. Al-Kawaz was in Amman during the attack.
"As you've noticed, there is no one seeking an investigation, and no investigation has been opened," said Ibrahim al-Saraj, who heads the Association to Defend Iraqi Journalists' Rights in Iraq. Saraj said the killings were part of a campaign to attack journalists "to dim the news in this country and to oppress journalistic freedom in Iraq."
Journalists are frequent targets of violence in Iraq. At least 206 journalists and media assistants have been killed in Iraq since March 2003, according to the Paris-based advocacy group Reporters without Borders, which condemned the killings on Monday.
In another key development, the United States and Iraq reached a deal Monday intended to lead to a more normalized, long-term relationship, but it left unsettled the question of how long U.S. forces, and how many, would remain.
President Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki signed the declaration of principles during a secure video conference as part of an effort to move forward 4 1/2 years after a U.S.-led coalition invaded and toppled Saddam Hussein. The declaration calls for the current United Nations mandate to be extended one year and then replaced at the end of 2008 by a bilateral pact governing the economic, political and security aspects of the relationship.
"The basic message here should be clear: Iraq is increasingly able to stand on its own," said Lt. Gen. Douglas Lute, Bush's top Iraq adviser.
The nonbinding statement sets out the basic parameters for talks on a formal pact. Those negotiations will address thorny issues such as what mission U.S. forces in Iraq will pursue, whether they will establish permanent bases, and what kind of immunity, if any, should be granted to private security contractors such as Blackwater Worldwide. Lute said a special negotiating team would seek to craft such an agreement by July 31.
The Washington Post contributed to this report.