Marines claim Reuters cameraman Dhia Najim was killed during a firefight with insurgents, implying that he was among the insurgents when he was hit. Eye-witnesses and video footage of the killing indicate no firefight occurred, and that Najim was killed by a Marine sniper. Link.
The U.S. military said Tuesday a cameraman killed in the Iraqi city of Ramadi while on assignment for Reuters had died in a gunbattle between Marines and insurgents.
“Marines from the 1st Marine Division of the I Marine Expeditionary Force engaged several insurgents in a brief small arms firefight that killed an individual who was carrying a video camera earlier Monday morning,” it said in a statement.
It was the military’s first response to questions from Reuters about the killing.
Video footage of the incident showed no apparent fighting and no sounds of shooting in the vicinity before Dhia Najim was killed by a single bullet. He filmed heavy clashes between Marines and insurgents earlier in the day but that fighting had subsided.
Najim’s colleagues and family said they believed he had been shot by a U.S. sniper.
Reuters Global Managing Editor David Schlesinger said: “We reject the clear implication in the Marines’ statement that Dhia was part of an insurgent group.
“This claim is not supported by the available evidence. I strongly urge the U.S. military to conduct a proper investigation into this tragic event.”
The cameraman was near his house in the Sunni Muslim city’s Andalus district when he was hit by a single bullet in the back of the neck that killed him instantly.
Video shot from an upper floor of a building nearby shows Najim, at first half-hidden by a wall, move into the open. As soon as he emerges, a powerful gunshot cracks out and he falls to the ground, his arms outstretched.
Civilians are seen gathering calmly at the scene immediately afterwards to look at his lifeless body.
Marine snipers are posted in Ramadi, news photographs taken Sunday show.