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Journalist among six slain in Iraq

By Jomana Karadsheh, CNN
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Slain journalist worked for state TV
  • Britain deplores the killing
  • Many journalists have been killed in Iraq

Baghdad, Iraq (CNN) -- At least six Iraqis were killed Tuesday, including a journalist for al-Iraqiya State TV who was shot dead in western Baghdad, authorities said.

Riyad al-Saray -- an anchor and a reporter -- was killed as he was leaving his home in the Harthiya neighborhood, an Interior Ministry official said.

The media watchdog group Reporters without Borders said 230 journalists and other media workers have been killed during the seven-and-a-half-year conflict, and al-Saray was the 15th journalist from the network to have been killed since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003

"The second U.S. war with Iraq was the most lethal for journalists since World War II," Reporters Without Borders said. "That is more than those killed during 20 years of the Vietnam War or the civil war in Algeria."

The British Embassy in Baghdad deplored al-Saray's killing and urged authorities to find the killer.

"A free and courageous press is an essential component of democracy. We support journalists in Iraq and encourage ethical and independent reporting. We assure them of our continuous support in the face of violence and intimidation," it said.

Also, in southwestern Baghdad on Tuesday, at least two people were killed and six others wounded in a roadside bombing, the official said. The attack targeting police in the Bayaa neighborhood killed at least one policeman and wounded two others, and the rest of the casualties were civilian bystanders.

In the north of the country, at least three members of one family were found shot dead in their home Tuesday morning. Police in Samarra say they discovered the bullet-riddled bodies of a husband, his wife and her brother.

The violence comes six months to the day since Iraqis went to the polls. This has been a period of increased attacks across Iraq, which is facing political uncertainty.

Politicians have been unable to form a government after the country's inconclusive national elections on March 7, and police believe the political standoff has contributed to tensions.

The killings in Samarra come after police there reported that five construction workers were shot to death Monday.

And on Sunday, suicide bombers carried out a coordinated and complex attack on an Iraqi military headquarters in central Baghdad, killing up to 12 people and wounding dozens. Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Buchanan, a U.S. spokesman, told reporters that the attack on the base was carried out by six bombers, not five as previously reported.

Buchanan said one bomber drove the explosives-packed vehicle that first struck, followed by five other bombers wearing explosive vests. The assault, by what the U.S. military believes were al Qaeda in Iraq militants, also drew American forces into the fight, four days after President Obama announced an official end to America's combat mission in Iraq.

Lt. Col. Eric Bloom, a U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad, told CNN on Sunday that U.S. forces based at the compound that came under attack "provided suppressive fire" along with Iraqi forces as two of the bombers gained access to the base.

"We have said all along that al Qaeda remains a determined foe and the terrorists are determined in fact to make a statement and to try to affect what is going on ... during this period of government formation ..." Buchanan said. There have been concerns that insurgents would take advantage of the political vacuum to try to reignite the sectarian bloodshed that gripped Iraq for years.

The brazen attack in broad daylight underscored the fragility of the security situation and the dangers both Iraqis and Americans still face daily.

According to Buchanan, despite what he called the "regrettable" loss of life, the Iraqi Security Forces held their ground during the attack and managed to prevent the militants from reaching their objective.

While overall violence in Iraq has dropped drastically over the past two years with the insurgency being dealt devastating blows, it has proved its ability to still carry out daring and deadly attacks across the country.

On August 28, the Iraqi government announced there were plots by al Qaeda and other groups to carry out attacks across the country and called on security forces and citizens to be on high alert.