Two British journalists, Syrian photographer reportedly killed

REPORTING FROM BEIRUT -- Two freelance British journalists were shot and killed by Syrian security forces Monday in a town near the Turkish border in Idlib province, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.

The journalists, both of Algerian descent, along with a third who was injured in the incident, were shooting a documentary about Syrians fleeing the conflict into Turkey, CPJ reported, citing media sources.

The statement came as another media watchdog group said a Syrian photographer had been kidnapped and killed. Neither report could be independently confirmed early Tuesday given the restrictions placed on independent media by the Syrian regime.

The two British journalists were identified as Naseem Intriri and Walid Bledi by the Spanish newspaper El Mundo. The newspaper's staff spoke to local activists in Idlib, which has become a focal point for the armed resistance against Syrian President Bashar Assad as well as a recent offensive by the government to rout out the rebel fighters.

The journalists were killed when regime militiamen fired at a home in the town of Darkoush where the Britons were staying with several activists, CPJ reported.

A witness interviewed by CPJ said that when the shooting began, Intriri and Bledi fled the house. They later returned to retrieve their equipment when they thought the shooting had stopped. The militiamen opened fire again, hitting one journalist in the head and the other in the chest, the witness said. According to him, the army took both of their bodies. The injured journalist, who was shot in the shoulder, was driven to a hospital in Antakya, Turkey.

"Their deaths are yet another illustration of the grave dangers that journalists face in reporting a conflict that the Syrian government has sought to hide from the world," said Mohamed Abdel Dayem, CPJ's Middle East and North Africa program coordinator.

Another media freedom group, Reporters Without Borders, reported that 22-year-old citizen journalist Jawan Mohammed Qatna had been kidnapped and killed, his body showing signs of torture when found in eastern Syria on Monday. It was unclear who had carried out the killings, the group said.

Qatna, who was active in the Kurdish youth movement, took photographs of Kurdish demonstrations and supplied them to media organizations that were unable to gain access the area, Reporters Without Borders said.

Since November, 10 journalists have been killed in Syria, making it the most dangerous place for journalists in the world, according to CPJ.

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-- Times staff

 
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