A TV grab taken off the Dubai-based Al-Arabiya satellite news channel shows its reporter in Baghdad, Iraqi journalist Atwar Bahjat al-Samerai who was assassinated in Samarra on 22 February, transmitting her last report from an open field on the fringes of the central Iraqi city after sunset yesterday. Three Iraqi journalists working for al-Arabiya were kidnapped and killed on the outskirts of Samarra, north of Baghdad, police said. (AFP/Al-Arabiya)"Half Sunni and half Shi’ite, Atwar’s dedication to impartial reporting made her enemies on both sides of Iraq’s sectarian divide: she could never satisfy one without infuriating the other," writes her friend and fellow Arab woman journalist, Hala Jaber. That's what happens when a country slides toward civil war -- the middle ground disappears. The results are brutal:
The bleak facts were that Atwar had driven to her native Samarra after the destruction of its Shi’ite shrine but found her route blocked by security checkpoints. Wearing a green coat and matching headscarf, she made two live broadcasts from just outside the city.What can you say? Just one more death out of thousands -- and it was probably not even noticed by the people who thought this would be a cakewalk.
Her third broadcast, just after 6pm, was her last and her make-up failed to conceal her strain. Not only was she tired; she was telling colleagues she was worried that she could not get into the city, night was falling and she was a long way from home.
A small, hostile crowd gathered. Then two gunmen arrived in a pick-up truck. She appealed to the crowd for help but the gunmen dispersed them by firing into the air.
Soon afterwards more shots were heard. Atwar’s body and those of her camerman and sound man were found next to their van. The green coat was ripped by two bullets in the back. She also took two to the head. She was 30 years old.