- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 16, 2007

BAGHDAD (AP) — Police prevented press photographers and camera operators from filming the scene of a bombing yesterday under a new policy limiting coverage of the devastating explosions that have become a hallmark of the violence in the country.

To enforce an order that a group of Iraqi journalists leave Tayaran Square, where the bombing occurred, police fired several shots in the air, reporters said.

Brig. Gen. Abdel Karim Khalaf, the operations director at the Interior Ministry, said this weekend that Iraq’s government has decided to bar press photographers and cameramen from the scene of bombings.

The order was aimed at preventing journalists from inadvertently tampering with evidence needed for investigations, protecting the privacy and human rights of those wounded and keeping insurgents and militias from keeping track of their success rate, Gen. Khalaf said.

He denied that the new regulation was aimed at curtailing press freedoms, saying other countries have similar restrictions.

U.S. and Iraqi forces launched a security crackdown in Baghdad three months ago in an effort to improve security in the capital, where scores of people often die each day in roadside and suicide bomb attacks, and in sectarian violence involving majority Shi’ites and minority Sunnis.

Meanwhile, U.S. forces searching for three soldiers said that suspected al Qaeda militants holding the men were trapped in an area of farmland near Baghdad. Agence France-Presse reported.

Backed by helicopters and using sniffing dogs, thousands of American and Iraqi troops taking part in the massive hunt have isolated towns in the “Triangle of Death” south of the capital, where the captors are believed to be hiding, the military said.

Al Qaeda has warned the U.S. military that the hunt could put the captured soldiers’ lives at risk.

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