Reporters Without Borders said Thursday it condemns the killing of two freelance journalists who were shot dead after an attack by Syrian forces on a group of about 50 people trying to entire Syria at Darkush on the border with Turkey three days ago.
Immediately after the offensive, the two journalists, aged between 28 and 32, were reported to have returned to the scene to collect their equipment. A Syrian army vehicle opened fire on them, killing both.
We deplore this deliberate double murder. One of the pair, Walid Blidi, was a British national of Algerian origin. The nationality of his colleague, Nassim Terreri, has yet to be established. A third journalist reported to have been wounded in the attack was taken to hospital in Turkish border town of d’Antakya.
The journalists planned to make a documentary in the village of Idleb, a hotbed of the protest movement that has been the target of a violent crackdown by forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad.
In view of the growing number of freelance journalists who go to theatres of war, Reporters Without Borders notes it is sometimes very difficult to ascertain the status and identities of such people when they get into difficulties. Therefore, we urge freelance journalists to share their travel plans with someone trustworthy who would be able to contact journalists’ organizations or the authorities.
The tragedy occurred a day after the murder of the citizen journalist Jawan Mohammed Qatana on 25 March in Derbassiyeh, north of the eastern city of Al-Hassakeh
Considering the troubles in Syria and the attitude of its authorities, the press freedom organization calls on journalists additionally to prepare their trip carefully, assess the risks and exercise caution.
Reporters Without Borders reminds them that specialized medical and repatriation insurance is available, including schemes developed by this organization with the insurance company April International Canada.
The organization urges news organizations that use the services of freelance journalists to meet the cost of their insurance, or to take account of it in their payment rates. The profession as a whole must be more careful about the safety of journalists, who are carrying out an essential job of reporting the news from the world’s hot spots.