Al Jazeera cameraman killed in eastern Libya

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Sunday, March 13, 2011

A rally taking place in Benghazi

An Al Jazeera cameraman working in Libya was killed in an alleged ambush on Saturday as he was returning with his team to the rebel-held city of Benghazi. Al Jazeera, in an official statement, called the act a "cowardly crime" and "part of the Libyan regime's malicious campaign targeting Al Jazeera and its staff".

Ali Hassan al-Jaber, along with two colleagues, was returning from a reporting assignment on an opposition protest in a nearby town, when unidentified gunmen opened fire on the car in which the group was traveling. Al Jaber was rushed to a hospital but a bullet had apparently penetrated his heart and he died. One of his colleagues was wounded.

The director general of Al Jazeera Wadah Khanfar paid tribute to Jaber at the network's media forum. He said, "He was one of those people who lived and eventually died in the pursuit of truth. We are determined to carry on regardless. We cannot sacrifice our lives except for noble causes. There is no nobler cause than the pursuit of truth."

Al Jaber, a Qatari national, is the first journalist reported to have been killed in the Libyan conflict. Reporters who were previously welcomed by opponents of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi now feel threatened by Gaddafi supporters as his forces near Benghazi. There are signs that Gaddafi intends to drive the foreign press out of Libya. He has already announced that foreign reporters working in the east of the country are working for "Al-Qaeda." Many journalists are now planning to leave the city.

The director of Al Jazeera, Wadah Khanfar, said that the killing of the cameraman followed "an unprecedented campaign" against the news organization by Gaddafi. He said, "Al Jazeera reiterates the assault cannot dent its resolve to continue its mission, professionally enlightening the public of the unfolding events in Libya and elsewhere." He described the people in Benghazi who expressed support of the station once news of the ambush was reported.