The on-the-job killings are part of the deadliest surge in bloodshed to hit Iraq in five years, raising fears that the country is falling back into the spiral of violence that brought it to the edge of civil war in the years after the 2003 US-led invasion.
A reporter and a cameraman for the privately owned Al-Sharqiya TV channel were shot—one in the head, the other in the torso—while working on a report in the city of Mosul, according to police. The city, about 220 miles (360 kilometers) northwest of Baghdad, is a former Sunni insurgent stronghold that has been one of the hardest areas of Iraq to tame.
Al-Sharqiya identified the correspondent as Mohammed Karim Al-Badrani and the cameraman as Mohammed Ghanem. It was not immediately clear why they were targeted.
Al-Sharqiya is one of several independent channels that took to the airways following the 2003 ouster of former dictator Saddam Hussein. It has drawn the ire of the current Shi’ite-led government with critical reports highlighting corruption, poor services and other shortcomings. Authorities suspended its operating license along with those of eight other Iraqi channels and pan-Arab broadcaster Al-Jazeera in April after accusing them of inflaming sectarian tensions.
The channel’s news director, Ali Wajih, said in a phone interview that he had not received any information from Mosul police, and he hoped the killings would be investigated.
“This is not new for Al-Sharqiya. This is usual for Iraq, that they kill journalists,” he said.
Sixteen members of the channel’s staff have been killed since 2003, Wajih said. Among them were four employees who were kidnapped and killed in 2008 while on assignment in Mosul, the site of Saturday’s attack.
Iraq was the deadliest country in the world for journalists between 2003 and 2008. Although members of the media continue to face intimidation, the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists has not reported a murder of a journalist in the country since September 2011.
South of Baghdad, a bomb hit a checkpoint manned by Sunni militiamen, killing three of the fighters and wounding five other people in the town of Youssifiyah, 12 miles (20 kilometers) south of the Iraqi capital, police said.
The militiamen were members of the Sahwa, which joined US troops in the war against Al-Qaeda at the height of Iraq war. Its members have since been targeted by Sunni insurgents who consider them traitors.
Hospital officials confirmed the casualties. The police and hospital officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to journalists.
Violence has risen significantly in Iraq since April. United Nations figures released this week showed that at least 979 people, most of them civilians, were killed last month alone.