An ambulance arrives at the scene of a bomb attack in Baghdad, on March 14, 2013
An ambulance arrives at the scene of a bomb attack in Baghdad, on March 14, 2013 © Ahmad al-Rubaye - AFP/File
An ambulance arrives at the scene of a bomb attack in Baghdad, on March 14, 2013
Last updated: December 24, 2013

Al-Qaeda claims attack that killed five Iraqi journalists

An Al-Qaeda-linked militant group claimed an attack on an Iraqi television station headquarters that killed five journalists, while the UN and US Tuesday condemned the targeting of media in Iraq.

At the direction of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant's "war ministry," militants attacked "the headquarters of the Salaheddin satellite (channel) which... distorts the facts and fights the Sunni people," the group said on online jihadist forums.

It said two militants took part in the attack on Monday, although police said four suicide bombers assaulted the channel's headquarters in Tikrit, north of Baghdad.

The attack killed five of the channel's journalists -- the chief news editor, a copy editor, a producer, a presenter and the archives manager -- and wounded five more employees.

Iraq has come in for repeated criticism over the lack of media freedom and the number of unsolved killings of journalists.

The country is experiencing the worst violence against journalists in years, with 12 killed in attacks since October 5.

"I am increasingly and gravely concerned about the targeting of journalists by terrorist elements during the past few weeks," United Nations envoy Nickolay Mladenov said Tuesday.

"This latest blatant act of terrorism at the Tikrit television station should be properly investigated and measures taken to prevent such heinous acts in future.

"I call upon the Iraqi government and (parliament) to ensure that adequate protection is provided to journalists and media outlets in Iraq," the UN envoy added.

The US embassy in Baghdad also condemned the attack.

"This is the latest of several recent attempts by the so-called Al-Qaeda in Iraq organisation to intimidate journalists and other members of the media," it said.

Violence has reached a level not seen since 2008, when Iraq was just emerging from a brutal period of sectarian killings.

More than 6,650 people have been killed in Iraq since the beginning of the year, according to AFP figures based on security and medical sources.

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