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Five dead in Iraq as Qaeda group claims mall assault
by Staff Writers
Baghdad (AFP) Dec 05, 2013

Jihadists execute Iraqi cameraman in rebel-held Syria
Beirut (AFP) Dec 05, 2013 - Fighters linked to Al-Qaeda executed an Iraqi freelance cameraman as he was leaving Syria after a 10-day assignment in rebel-held territory, watchdogs said on Thursday.

Yasser Faysal al-Joumaili was shot dead after being stopped at a checkpoint in mainly rebel-held Idlib province in the northwest as he headed for the Turkish border on Wednesday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

His death at the hands of jihadist fighters of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) underlined the risks of reporting from Syria, which Reporters without Borders (RSF) describes as the world's most dangerous country for journalists.

The 34-year-old father-of-three had been filming in Aleppo province further east, one of the main battlegrounds of the 33-month conflict, the head of RSF's Middle East and North Africa desk, Soazig Dollet, told AFP.

She said he was the first foreign journalist killed by jihadists in Syria.

The Baghdad-based Journalistic Freedoms Observatory (JFO) said Turkish officials were not allowing Joumaili's body to be brought out of Syria.

"The family of Joumaili told JFO that the body of their son was stuck at the Bab al-Hawa border crossing with Turkey and Turkish authorities were preventing it from passing," the group said.

It said Joumaili was from the city of Fallujah, west of Baghdad, a key battleground in the insurgency that followed the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.

He was on assignment for a Spanish media outlet at the time of his death but had previously worked for Al-Jazeera International and Reuters.

Joumaili was the eighth foreign journalist to have been killed in Syria since the conflict erupted in March 2011, according to RSF.

Twelve Syrian professional journalists and at least 91 citizen journalists have also been killed.

In recent months, ISIL has kidnapped dozens of Syrian activists and news providers, as well as several foreign journalists.

The group, which has its roots in Al-Qaeda's Iraq affiliate, was accused of assassinating Syrian reporter Mohammad Saeed, who worked for Al-Arabiya news channel, in his native Aleppo province in late October.

Attacks in Baghdad and the main northern city of Mosul on Thursday killed five people as an Al-Qaeda front group claimed an assault on a mall and adjoining police complex.

The violence was the latest in a protracted surge in bloodshed that has killed more than 6,200 people already this year, forcing the authorities to appeal for international help just months ahead of elections.

Officials have blamed a resurgent Al-Qaeda emboldened by the civil war in neighbouring Syria, but the government has itself been criticised for not doing enough to address the concerns of the disaffected Sunni Arab minority.

Shootings and bombings in the capital and Mosul, a restive predominantly Sunni city in north Iraq, killed five people, security and medical officials said, while security forces found the bodies of two anti-Al-Qaeda militiamen.

The militiamen were members of the Sahwa, a collection of Sunni tribal militias that sided with the US military against their co-religionists in Al-Qaeda from 2006 onwards.

As a result, Sunni militants regard them as traitors and often target them.

The bloodshed came as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) claimed it was behind a massive coordinated attack on a shopping mall and adjoining police intelligence office in the northern tinderbox city of Kirkuk.

Overall, the attack -- which involved a car bomb, a firefight and several would-be suicide bombers -- killed 11 people and wounded 79, according to officials. Five militants were also killed.

"Thanks to God, they (ISIL fighters) carried out the order to invade the house of the unbelievers by raiding the headquarters of the intelligence in Kirkuk," a statement posted on a jihadist forum said.

Kirkuk has a mixed population of Arabs, Kurds and Turkmen.

It lies at the centre of a swathe of territory stretching from Iraq's eastern border with Iran to its western frontier with Syria that Kurdish leaders want to incorporate into their autonomous region in the north over strenuous objections from the central government in Baghdad.

Militants often exploit poor communication between the Iraqi army and Kurdish security forces to launch attacks in the city.

Violence has spiked this year after security forces stormed a Sunni protest camp north of Baghdad in April, amid months of demonstrations by Iraq's Sunni Arab minority which complains of discrimination at the hands of the Shiite-led authorities.

The government has made some concessions aimed at placating Sunni Arabs, including freeing prisoners and raising the salaries of anti-Al-Qaeda fighters, and have also trumpeted security operations against militants.

But daily attacks have shown no sign of abating.

Despite a near-ubiquitous security force presence, attacks have hit targets ranging from cafes and football grounds to military checkpoints and government vehicles.


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Iraq: The first technology war of the 21st century

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Nine dead in Iraq as militants attack shopping mall
Kirkuk, Iraq (AFP) Dec 04, 2013
A massive attack on a shopping mall in northern Iraq was the deadliest in violence that killed nine people nationwide on Wednesday amid fears of a slide into all-out conflict. The coordinated attack on the complex, which involved a car bomb, gunmen and would-be suicide bombers, came amid a surge in unrest that has claimed more than 6,200 lives this year. Officials have blamed a resurgent ... read more

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