Inquiry call over cameraman death
BAGHDAD, Iraq -- Reuters news agency is calling for a "comprehensive investigation" after one of its award-winning cameramen was shot and killed by U.S. troops near Baghdad.
Coalition officials say soldiers mistook Mazen Dana's camera for a shoulder-launched weapon and have described the incident as a "tragic mistake."
The shooting took place in daylight Sunday afternoon outside the U.S.-run Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad, scene of an attack Saturday night that killed six Iraqis and wounded nearly 60 others.
U.S. military officials say they are investigating the circumstances surrounding the incident.
"They thought he was aiming an RPG (rocket-propelled grenade) at them and they engaged him," a senior Pentagon official told CNN.
Dana, 43, had worked for Reuters for 10 years, mostly in the West Bank city of Hebron.
An ethnic Palestinian and father of four, he was one of Reuters' most experienced conflict journalists, the news agency said.
He won an International Press Freedom Award in 2001 by the Committee to Protect Journalists for his work in Hebron, where he was wounded and beaten many times.
"Mazen was one of Reuters' finest cameramen, and we are devastated by his loss," Stephen Jukes, Reuters' global head of news, said in a statement.
"He was a brave and award-winning journalist who had worked in many of the world's hot spots," he added.
"He was committed to covering the story wherever it was and was an inspiration to friends and colleagues at Reuters, and throughout the industry. Our thoughts and deepest sympathies are with his family."
He said the agency was hoping for "the fullest and most comprehensive investigation into this terrible tragedy."
Reuters television has released the last pictures Dana took before he was shot, showing a U.S. tank outside the prison.
The video shows the tank driving towards him outside the prison walls. Several shots ring out from the tank and Dana's camera falls to the ground.
Describing the moments leading up to the shooting, a Reuters news report quotes soundman Nael al-Shyoukhi, who was working with Dana, as saying they had asked a U.S. soldier near the prison if they could speak to an officer and was told they could not.
"They saw us and they knew about our identities and our mission," Shyoukhi said, adding the soldier had agreed to their request to film an overview of the prison from a bridge nearby.
"After we filmed we went into the car and prepared to go when a convoy led by a tank arrived and Mazen stepped out of the car to film. I followed him and Mazen walked three to four meters. We were noted and seen clearly," Shyoukhi said.
"A soldier on the tank shot at us. I lay on the ground. I heard Mazen and I saw him scream and touching his chest.
"I cried at the soldier, telling him you killed a journalist. They shouted at me and asked me to step back and I said 'I will step back, but please help, please help and stop the bleed'.
"They tried to help him but Mazen bled heavily. Mazen took a last breath and died before my eyes."
Dana is the second Reuters cameraman to die in Iraq.
On April 8, shortly after U.S.-led forces arrived in Baghdad, Ukrainian-born Taras Protsyuk died when a U.S. tank fired a shell at the 15th floor of the Palestine Hotel, the base for many foreign media in Baghdad