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LIBYA: Al Jazeera cameraman mourned as journalists continue to be targeted

March 13, 2011 |  6:47 am

A cameraman for Al Jazeera was killed and another man wounded Saturday afternoon when a network van came under fire near the rebel-held city of Benghazi in what the network is describing as an ambush (link in Arabic).

Although the identity of the assailants is unknown, Al Jazeera has made it clear that it holds besieged Libyan leader Moammar Kadafi and his government responsible.

"This attack came after an unprecedented incitement campaign by Kadafi," the station's general director, Wadah Khanfar, said on Al Jazeera, according to the Associated Press. "This incitement is the main reason for what happened."

The above video released by the network shows a large crowd of Libyan supporters who gathered in the city's main square to mourn the death of 56-year-old Ali Hassan Jaber, a Qatari national. The crowd can be heard yelling, "Without our soul and our blood, we'll defend you Al Jazeera."

Al Jazeera has been successfully broadcasting its coverage of the ongoing unrest in Libya, undermining claims by Kadafi that the country is either calm and under his control or that there is violence being caused by Islamic radicals and drugged-out Revolutionaries.

Picture 11 Kadafi's government has sought to crack down on media coverage of violence that some are calling a civil war between Kadafi's forces in the west of the country and the rebel movement based in the east.

The Committee to Protect Journalists has counted more than 40 attacks on press workers since the unrest began last month, and at least six journalists were still unaccounted for as of Friday.

The Los Angeles Times' Borzou Daragahi on Wednesday reported on the "surreal" working conditions faced by journalists attempting to cover Libya, even at the invitation of the government:

Tripoli these days is a place where government agents in leather trench coats and sunglasses hover at hotel entrances. Where 'spontaneous' pro-government rallies break out just as busloads of journalists escorted by the government arrive in a town. Where top officials, including Kadafi and Seif Islam, personally urge journalists to take taxis and visit neighborhoods in the capital, but their minions prevent them from doing so.

-- Meris Lutz in Beirut