WASHINGTON (AFP) -Two British members of a US news crew were killed and a US reporter was seriously wounded in a car-bomb attack in central Baghdad, raising to 96 the toll of media professionals killed in Iraq.
Paul Douglas, 48, a veteran CBS cameraman, and sound technician James Brolan, 42, died Monday, while US correspondent Kimberly Dozier, 39, sustained serious injuries, CBS News said.
A makeshift bomb in a parked car exploded as the journalists were accompanying a US army patrol in downtown Baghdad.
Also killed in the attack were a US Army captain and an Iraqi interpreter, according to the British Foreign Office.
The three journalists had gotten out of their armored Humvee vehicle while embedded with the US 4th Infantry division to inspect an Iraqi checkpoint. They were wearing the body armor that US forces oblige them to use, CBS said.
Dozier was hit in the lower body and by a piece of shrapnel to the head.
“Doctors successfully removed the shrapnel from her head, and it did not penetrate her brain, so that does not appear to be life threatening. The serious injuries are to her lower body,” CBS reporter David Martin said.
US ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad said he was “shocked and saddened” by the attack, and visited Dozier in hospital, according to CBS.
“These brave journalists risked their lives to tell the world the story of a courageous people and a proud nation,” Kahlizad said.
A military helicopter flew Dozier from the scene to a US military hospital within the nearby Green Zone but she has now been moved to another hospital north of Baghdad.
Dozier underwent further surgery and doctors stabilized her for an airlift to a US military hospital in Germany, to be carried out once it is safe to move her.
CBS said doctors gave a “cautiously optimistic” prognosis.
“This is a devastating loss for CBS News,” said president Sean McManus.
“Kimberly, Paul and James were veterans of war coverage who proved their bravery and dedication every single day.”
Dozier’s relatives were planning to travel to Germany to wait for her transfer there to a military hospital, a family spokesman told CBS late Monday.
Dozier, who has both US and British citizenship, and her London-based team joined a long list of journalists killed and wounded in the Iraq war.
CBS said Dozier has been covering the Iraq war for three years.
From 1996-1998, she anchored BBC Radio World Services “World Update” foreign affairs program.
Douglas had worked for CBS News since the 1990s in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Rwanda and Bosnia, sharing credit for a 2006 Overseas Press Club award for CBS coverage of the Pakistan earthquake.
Freelancer Brolan had worked for CBS for the past year in Iraq and Afghanistan, the network said.
“James was the best dad, the best husband and the best mate to be with in a tight spot out in the field,” Brolan’s family said in a statement. He was married with two children ages 12 and 18.
In its 2005 report, Paris-based Reporters Without Borders called Iraq the world’s most dangerous country for journalists.
Adding the group’s figures to the CBS team, at least 96 reporters, photographers, cameramen and assistants have died since the US-led invasion in March 2003, making it the deadliest war for journalists since World War II.
By comparison, 63 journalists were killed over 20 years of war in Vietnam from 1955-1975.
“The security situation is becoming more and more alarming for the press in Iraq,” Reporters Without Borders said in a statement after the attack on the CBS crew.
Noting that six of the journalists killed in the war were embedded with US coalition forces, the international press freedom group said: “Although better protected, embedded journalists are not completely isolated from the dangers.”