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Family, Friends Bury Slain AP Cameraman

December 13, 2006

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) _ Relatives and friends buried an AP Television News cameraman on Wednesday, a day after he was killed by insurgents while covering clashes in northern Iraq.

Aswan Ahmed Lutfallah, 35, was having his car repaired in the eastern part of Mosul Tuesday when insurgents and police began fighting nearby and he rushed to cover the clash.

Insurgents spotted him filming, approached him and shot him to death, police Brig. Abdul-Karim Ahmed Khalaf said. They shot him five times and took his camera equipment, cell phone and press ID card, according to police.

Lutfallah was buried Wednesday according to Muslim tradition in Mosul, 225 miles northwest of Baghdad.

He was the second employee of the news cooperative killed in the northern city in less than two years.

The Committee to Protect Journalists condemned the attack and called on Iraqi authorities to take action against those responsible ``for the growing number of deadly attacks on the press and stop the cycle of impunity.″

The New York-based advocacy group said 90 journalists and 37 media support workers have been killed in Iraq since the war started in March 2003. Sixteen of those were killed in Ninevah province, in which Mosul is located, making it the second-most dangerous locale for journalists in the country, according to CPJ.

Lutfallah had been employed by AP Television News as a cameraman in Mosul since 2005. He is survived by his wife, Alyaa Abdul-Karim Salim, a 6-year-old son, Yusof, and an infant daughter, Rafa.

``Our hearts go out to Aswan’s family and his Iraqi AP colleagues,″ said AP President and CEO Tom Curley. ``The murder of yet another journalist underscores the particular dangers of this conflict and the sacrifices of those committed to reporting the story.″

Violence in Mosul appears to have decreased since November 2004, when the city’s entire 5,500-member police force deserted during an insurgent uprising. But Iraqi security forces still struggle to maintain order in the city of Sunni Arabs, Shiites and Kurds.

On April 23, 2005, cameraman Saleh Ibrahim was killed after an explosion in Mosul that also wounded AP photographer Mohammed Ibrahim.

Lutfallah was the third AP employee killed in the Iraq war. In 2004, Ismail Taher Mohsin, a driver, was ambushed by gunmen and killed near his home in Baghdad.

Lutfallah’s death brings to 29 the number those who have lost their lives on assignments for the AP since the news cooperative was founded in 1846.

Update hourly