Poor Atwar and her ColleaguesIt was so sad and shocking to know the first thing in the morning when I turned on the television on Al-Arabiya that their Baghdad correspondent Atwar Bahjat and two of her colleagues were killed near the Iraqi city of Samarra.
The station said the woman and her two colleagues, Adnan Khairallah and Khaled Mahmoud were stopped by two gunmen Wednesday afternoon near Samarra and shot near their car. They had tried to enter the city earlier in the day to cover a bombing that damaged a holy Shiite Muslim shrine but were prevented.
I met Atwar few times in the past three years and was always impressed by how courageous she was in chasing the news whether it had to do with violence or politics. She confidently stood in front of the camera speaking live from Baghdad's dangerous streets.
Why was she killed? I hope we will know one day when her killers are captured and brought to face justice.
The death of Atwar and her colleagues raised the number of journalists killed in Iraq since the American invasion began in March 2003 to 64 according to the Committee to Protest Journalists www.cpj.org
Al-Arabiya kept airing Thursday footage of Atwar saying that being a journalist in Iraq could easily cost a person his or her life.
Before the war Atwar worked for Iraqi Satellite Channel and after the American invasion she joined Al-Jazeera. In December she quiet Al-Jazeera and weeks later joined Al-Arabiya.
Iraq has been the most dangerous country for journalists since the war.
I still remember on March 18, 2004 when I went late that day with my colleague Hussein to cover a rocket attack on a hotel in central Baghdad. After spending about half an hour at the scene we left the place. Few seconds later we heard heavy shooting from the areas where we were.
As we arrived at our office, we knew that two Al-Arabiya employees, who were near us at the scene earlier were shot dead by American soldiers. Ali al-Khatib, who only got married few days before the shooting, and Ali Abdul-Aziz died instantly.
Several other journalists who I met in Iraq in the past three years were killed, including Reuters' Mazen Dana, which is very sad and scary at the same time.
I thought that the situation improved following the December 15 parliamentary elections but since arriving in Baghdad this week the situation turns out to be the opposite.
More than 100 people have been killed in the past 24 hours. We don't know how Friday will be like.