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Journalist group calls for probe of cameraman's death

Autopsy expected to show who fired fatal bullet in Gaza

From Kelly Wallace
CNN

James Miller's colleagues think he was shot by Israeli forces, a source close to his family and friends said.
James Miller's colleagues think he was shot by Israeli forces, a source close to his family and friends said.

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JERUSALEM (CNN) -- As they await results from the autopsy Tuesday of British journalist James Miller, which might indicate who shot him in Gaza, his colleagues are calling for an independent investigation.

"James was not shooting, and he was not near somebody who was shooting," said Charles Enderlin, a correspondent with France Deux and a board member of the Foreign Press Association. "So again, to know exactly what happened, we need a full-fledged inquiry."

Miller's colleagues believe the shot that killed him came from an Israeli armored personnel carrier, according to a source close to his family and friends.

The 34-year-old cameraman was the second journalist to be killed in as many weeks while covering Israeli actions in the Palestinian territories.

He was shot Friday while approaching Israeli troops with two other journalists while shooting a documentary.

The autopsy results, are expected next week, according to a source close to Miller's family and friends, might reveal who fired the bullet that killed him.

Israeli officials have said that the soldiers on the scene were returning fire from Palestinian gunmen and that Miller was killed during that clash.

Israeli officials have said that Miller was shot in the back. Some believe, like Miller's colleagues, that he was killed by Israeli gunfire. Others suggest the fatal shot might have come from a Palestinian gunman.

"We know that Israelis fired, whether or not he was shot by Israelis, there's a good chance he was shot by Israeli fire, we are not certain at this time," Daniel Seaman, director of Israel's government press office, told CNN.

Video shows scene of shooting

In video shot by an Associated Press cameraman shortly before the incident, several gunshots are heard before an Israeli bulldozer, which Israelis say was used to uncover a tunnel allegedly being used to smuggle weapons inside Gaza from Egypt, is seen. Moments later, three journalists who were covering the Israeli action appear, one with a TV label on the back of a bullet proof vest, and another carrying a white flag.

In the videotape, they are difficult to see in the darkness.

"Hello, can you hear us?," one of the journalists says.

After that, a gunshot is heard and then one of the journalists says, "We are British journalists."

Soon afterward, there is another shot, and the sound of someone in pain.

Miller died on the scene, after Israeli soldiers came to his aid, according to the Israel Defense Forces. He was hit by one bullet, Israeli military sources said.

Miller is best known for his work on two award-winning documentaries, "Beneath the Veil" and "Unholy War," which appeared on CNN and which helped expose the Taliban's rule in Afghanistan to the world.

At least 7 journalists killed in 2 years

On April 19, Palestinian cameraman Nazih Darwazah was shot and killed by an Israeli soldier in the West Bank town of Nablus. (Full story)

The deaths of Miller and Darwazah bring the number of journalists who have been killed in the region since the start of the latest Palestinian intifida in September 2000 to at least seven .

"This is very worrying, and I believe the Israeli army should take special measures to prevent this," Enderlin told CNN.

The message from the Israeli government is that soldiers are not targeting journalists, but that journalists who travel to places where there could be live-fire exchanges between Israeli forces and armed Palestinians have a responsibility to take greater precautions.

"They have to realize it's not a game going on there, it's a life-and-death situation," Seaman said. "The soldiers are thinking about their lives; they don't have time to hesitate."

Seaman said Miller and his colleagues did not tell the IDF that they would be shooting video in that area that night.

A source close to Miller's colleagues said the IDF knew Miller and his colleagues were in the border area, but that the army did not know they were in that "particular house" at that "particular time."

Miller and reporter Saira Shah were in Rafah, in Gaza, filming a documentary for HBO on the impact of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on Palestinian children.

With the autopsy completed, Miller's body is expected to be returned to Britain soon, the source said.


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