BAGHDAD (AFP) – Gunmen in Baghdad killed 11 family members of an Iraqi journalist operating an electronic news website, the journalist Dia al-Kawwaz told AFP by telephone from Amman on Monday.
“Four gunmen entered my family house in Shab area. Two of my sisters, their husbands and seven children between five and 10 years old were killed yesterday (Sunday) morning,” Kawwaz said.
He accused Shiite militiamen of carrying out the killings, saying they “stormed the house when the family was having breakfast”.
Kawwaaz, who has lived in Germany for the past 20 years, operates the Internet website Shabeqat Akhbar al-Iraq (Network of Iraqi News).
“Earlier I was accused of being pro-US and so had to flee to Germany and now I am accused of being a Saddamist,” said Kawwaz, a Shiite.
According to the report on his website, which is known for its strong stance against the US military occupation of Iraq, the gunmen bombed the house after killing the family members.
“The gunmen were heavily armed and started shooting randomly. They killed all the family members and later bombed the house,” the report said.
It said the incident took place despite the presence of police at a nearby checkpoint.
“The gunmen came in the vehicle which had no registration plate,” it said.
The latest incident involving a journalist comes a week after the kidnapping of a reporter for Iraq’s Al-Baghdadiyah satellite channel.
Muntadhar al-Zaidi, 28, was released three days after being abducted.
Journalists are frequently targeted by insurgents in Iraq and few are freed if kidnapped. Mostly their bodies are found dumped a few days after they disappear.
Paris-based media watchdog Reporters Without Borders, said at least 206 journalists, technicians or assistants have been killed since the US-led invasion of March 2003 — 46 of them since the start of this year.
Most of them are Iraqis killed by insurgents or militias angered by their coverage or ideologically opposed to their employers. Others have simply been caught in the crossfire.