Iraqi authorities to probe attacks on media outlets, including one on Al Arabiya
Iraqi authorities say they are opening an investigation into recent attacks on several media outlets in Iraq, including one by unidentified masked gunmen on Al Arabiya’s bureau in Baghdad.
“There was an attack on several media outlets on Saturday, including Dajla, NRT, and Al Arabiya, and today as well on al-Forat television network, as well as on al-Nahar newspaper late last night,” Iraqi Interior Ministry spokesman Major General Saad Maan said during a joint press conference on Sunday alongside spokespersons from the Joint Operations Command and the ministries of defense and health.
“Investigations are ongoing right now on the attacks on media channels over the past two days. When there is a security issue in the country, there are some who try and take advantage of the situation and try to settle scores. Because of that, we are urging everyone to stay within the legal frameworks and cooperate with security forces,” Maan added.
On Saturday, masked gunmen in black cars stormed the offices of Al Arabiya, assaulted four employees and smashed equipment before fleeing.
According to Majid Hamid, Al Arabiya’s correspondent in Baghdad, the attack took place at 10 pm on Saturday when masked gunmen arriving in three black cars forced themselves into the bureau.
“The masked gunmen were wearing military gear. They assaulted four of our colleagues who were present in the building. They suffered bruises and one of our colleagues broke his hand as a result of the attack,” Hamid told Al Arabiya English.
Hamid then said that security forces at a nearby checkpoint failed to intervene to stop the attack.
“Members of the federal police declined assistance to us during the attack,” the correspondent said.
The attack came after the station had received threats for several days.
Al Arabiya’s correspondent said the masked gunmen then destroyed several CCTV cameras and hard drives containing recordings of the surveillance system. However, the masked gunmen failed to destroy one hard drive which Al Arabiya then broadcast showing footage of the attack a day later.
Gunmen also attacked the offices of Iraq’s private Dajla and NRT news channels. Both of those privately-owned stations have been covering the daily protests.
An official at NRT said her station is so damaged that they won't be able to broadcast any time soon, according to an Associated Press report. The attackers, Sawra Abdul-Wahab told AP, stole $250,000, laptop computers and mobile phones.