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Killing of journalists by U.S. forces in Iraq condemned
Islamabad |From Our Correspondent | 10-04-2003
"The war was launched to capture the oil resources of Iraq," MMA president Maulana Shah Ahmed Noorani told reporters after a meeting of the leadership council of the six-party grouping.


  Pakistani journalists marched through the streets in Islamabad and a number of other cities on Wednesday to denounce the killing of three journalists in attacks by U.S. forces in Baghdad.

"Stop these killings" shouted dozens of journalists as they walked up to the United Nations Offices in Islamabad where they presented a statement condemning the "targeting of journalists working in the battlefield of Iraq".

The statement called upon the UN to institute a probe into the attacks that claimed the lives of mediamen. Cameramen Taras Protsyuk (35) of the British wire service Reuters and Jose Couso (37) of Spanish television were killed when a U.S. tank fired on Baghdad's Palestinian Hotel where most foreign journalists in Baghdad were putting up.

Tareq Ayub, 34 year old correspondent for Arab television network Al Jazeerah was also killed when a missile ripped through the station's office in the Iraqi capital.

Tuesday's killing brought to at least 12 the number of journalists and staff killed in the three-week old war in Iraq, which the U.S.-led coalition launched on March 20 bypassing the United Nations.

Pakistan's influential Muttahida Majlis Amal (MMA) religious alliance Wednesday voiced "strong condemnation" of the heavy loss of civilian lives as a result of the "naked aggression" on Iraq.

"The war was launched to capture the oil resources of Iraq," MMA president Maulana Shah Ahmed Noorani told reporters after a meeting of the leadership council of the six-party grouping.

Noorani said the alliance, which has organised a series of impressive anti-war rallies over the past three weeks, would hold another big demonstration at Hyderabad in Southern Sindh province on April 14.

It will be followed by another marathon rally on April 23 at Muzzafarabad, the main city in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir.

Mujahid Ali Our Karachi Correspondent adds: Defying a ban on rallies at the U.S. Consulate, Pakistani journalists yesterday staged a demonstration outside the heavily guarded diplomatic mission to condemn the killing of journalists and civilians in Iraq by the allied forces.

Over 60 journalists shouted 'Down with America,' and 'Down with Bush,' outside the consulate sending the police and paramilitary troops on alert.

"Americans, don't kill journalists," they screamed. This was the first rally outside the U.S. Consulate in Karachi in several years. All through the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan in 2001 and then in Iraq, Karachi has seen a spate of rallies, but none was held outside the consulate.

The authorities do not allow there rallies because it is considered a big security risk. There has been a spate of terror attacks in Pakistan targeting Westerners, including the last year's June 14 bombing outside the Consulate in Karachi in which 12 Pakistanis were killed.

Members belonging to the Karachi Union of Journalists staged the rally on a short notice dodging the police. The journalist also observed a minute's silence to mourn the death of slain journalists killed in the Iraq war.

"This war is not between Islam and Christianity. It is for American interest and to grab the oil reserves of Iraq," Sabihuddin Ghousi, president of the Karachi Press Club, said in his address.

Abdul Hameed Chapara, President of the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalist, said the protest is to express solidarity with the victims of Iraq war and condemn the killing of journalists.

The protest lead to a traffic jam on the busy Abdullah Haroon Road, but police refrained from using force to break the rally.

"They are our journalist friends," a senior police official said. "We don't want that they should be hurt," he said. Others were seen urging the journalists to conclude the protest as soon as possible. The rally ended peacefully.