Mother of slain Iraqi presenter forgives killer, as fresh militant attacks kill five journalists

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 24 December, 2013, 6:56pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 24 December, 2013, 6:56pm

The mother of a young Iraqi television presenter who was shot dead in the northern city of Mosul met and forgave her killer, saying he sent her daughter to paradise.

The act of forgiveness over Nawras al-Nuaimi's death came on Monday just as fresh violence erupted against Iraqi journalists – when unknown gunmen killed five journalists in Tikrit city and seized control over a local television station – underscoring the continuing dangers facing the country’s press.

Two suicide bombers blew themselves up, while security forces killed another two assailants when they seized hostages and battled security forces for hours as fire engulfed the upper floors of the building, where a state television channel also had a bureau.

We are stunned by ... the failure of authorities to respond to the deadly campaign against journalists
Reporters Without Borders

Among the dead were Salaheddin television’s chief news editor, a copy editor, a producer, a presenter and the archives manager, the officers said. Another five employees were wounded.

As the attack unfolded, Abu Mohamed, a reporter for the channel on the second floor, called his family to say goodbye.

“I told them, ‘We are trapped inside the building, and I don’t know if I will survive,” he said. “A few minutes later, two gunmen came in and took our phones and shouted at us, demanding that we stay in our rooms. They wore black masks and carried machine guns and hand grenades.”

The assault in Tikrit, about 100 miles northwest of Baghdad, appears to open a new, deadlier phase in a vicious campaign by al-Qaeda militants against journalists.

But on Monday, there was also a gesture of peace as the mother of Nawras al-Nuaimi met the man who killed her daughter, telling him that he “sent her as a bride to paradise”, and kissed his forehead, according to the Al-Mosuliyah channel, where Nuaimi worked before she died.

She was gunned down during a robbery near her home on December 15. She had just become engaged to a doctor, and friends said she was realising her dream of becoming a television news presenter.

The bereaved mother was later shown in her daughter’s bedroom, holding a blood-stained book titled Introduction to Human Rights, which Nuaimi was carrying when she was killed.

Iraqi army Staff Major General Ali al-Fraiji said Nuaimi’s killer was among a group that was arrested during an attempted attack on security forces.

Nuaimi, who was born in 1994, was the fifth journalist to be killed in Mosul in less than three months, while seven more were killed elsewhere in Iraq during the same period.

Mosul, where most residents are Sunni Arabs, and its surrounding areas have become an al-Qaeda stronghold, with militants controlling entire neighbourhoods, extorting local businesses, officials and university professors, say residents and security officials.

Security forces have found lists of journalists targeted for assassination during raids on militant hide-outs in Mosul, and many journalists have stopped reporting in the streets or attending news conferences.

Iraq has come in for repeated criticism over the lack of media freedom and the number of unsolved killings of journalists.

“We are stunned by this latest murder and by the failure of the local and national authorities to respond to the deadly campaign against journalists in Iraq,” media rights watchdog Reporters Without Borders said in a statement on the killing of Nuaimi.

Iraq has come in for repeated criticism over the lack of media freedom and the number of unsolved killings of journalists. With the latest violence, 12 Iraqi journalists have been killed in attacks in less than three months.

Violence in the country has reached a level not seen since 2008, when the country was emerging from a period of brutal sectarian killings.

More than 6,650 people have been killed in Iraq since the beginning of the year, according to AFP figures based on security and medical sources.